More than 80 percent of children in Tulsa Public Schools receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Summertime brings a dramatic rise in grocery bills for these families, and some kids simply don't get enough food.
That's where the Summer Cafe comes in. The annual program kicked off Thursday, and this year, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is lending a hand.
Debbie Goolsby is not about to let any bit of food go to waste, especially now that school's out. The food bank estimates providing breakfast and lunch can run $200 a month per child, and as the mother of two, Goolsby doesn't doubt it.
"Easily. Yeah, it can sometimes exceed that, especially when you add in dinner. It's $300 to $400 a month," she said.
"I think you can ask any parent who has a child in school, their food bill goes up during the summer," said Eileen Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is the Executive Director of the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank, which is helping Tulsa Public Schools run four of its summer cafe sites this year.
The food bank rented two refrigerated trucks for the project, and now Bradshaw wants to see them put to good use.
"We really want any child who's eating breakfast or lunch at school during the school year to come eat during the summer. We don't want hunger to be a burden for families during this time," said Bradshaw.
Thursday, the kids were feasting on carrots, applesauce, peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk. A menu that won rave reviews from six-year-old, Violet.
"I liked it. It was really good," she said.
The goal now is to get the word out. There are more than a thousand apartment complexes in the area, and they'll be distributing fliers to let folks know lunch is being served through August first.
No documentation is required and any child 18 or younger is welcome.
"The last site we had about 35 kids and it was an apartment complex where we have the potential for 300. We'd really like to see all 300 of those kids come out to eat," Bradshaw said.
Tulsa Public Schools is running more than 70 sites scattered throughout the city for this year's summer cafe program.
You can find a complete list and schedule, on their website, or you can call the TPS coordinator at 918-833-8679 for more information.