Free summer lunch program changed

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Instead of talking about combating child hunger, Allan and Hannah Levy took action three years ago by launching the Lunchbox Express program in Englewood and using a small school bus to make stops and hand out free meals to all comers 18 and younger.

Last year’s program followed basically the same format, but this year the buses will be serving different areas in Denver and Aurora. Hannah Levy said Lunchbox Express will still continue to provide meals for Englewood children but, instead of a bus going from place to place, the lunches will be handed out at Clayton Elementary School.

From May 28 until Aug. 2, each day from 11 a.m. until noon Monday through Friday, free lunches will be handed out in the parking lot of the school at 4600 S. Fox St. In addition, Lunchbox Express teamed up with the Clayton summer KidQuest program to offer a free breakfast to school-age children. Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. in the Clayton cafeteria.

There will also be a similar program at Bishop Elementary School for two weeks starting June 3, plus the breakfast and lunch program will be available for the four-week summer class session that starts at Clayton in late July.

“Our goal has always been to get meals to the children of needy families,” Hannah Levy said. “We were shown that there are areas in Denver and Aurora where there are more needy families who needed to be served. Also, we got some help, so this year, we’ll have three buses that will be serving areas in West Denver and along East Colfax in Denver and in Aurora. Our first year, we served about 5,000 meals at four sites and the second year, we served about 20,000 meals. Estimates are our new system will probably serve about 45,000 meals this summer.”

She said she was a little surprised by the fact that there are so many children of needy families. With the information, the decision was made to expand the Lunchbox Express service to areas where 95 percent of schoolchildren get a free lunch or pay a much-reduced cost for lunch.

“We remain an all-volunteer organization, with 50 or 60 people who will staff the buses and the lunch locations,” Hannah Levy said.

The Lunchbox Express program remains based in Englewood. In addition to the lunch station at Clayton Elementary School and a lunch station at the Sheridan Recreation Center, the lunches will be loaded in the buses and taken to the lunch sites from the central location at the Maddox building.

“We are very grateful for Englewood Schools’ continued cooperation, allowing us to store our food and work out of the Maddox building,” Hannah said. “We also have quite a few Englewood volunteers who will be helping us feed hungry children in other parts of the metro area.”