Free kids’ lunches offered for summer

By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

With her three daughters in tow, Jamey Gallegos attended Tuesday’s free summer lunch program at Portales Junior High School.

Not only does it give her children the chance to get out of the house, but it makes them feel as if they are eating out instead of at home, Gallegos said.

“I like it, it’s good for the kids, they’re more excited to eat their balanced meals here,” she said.

Eating at the summer lunch program is part of her daughters’ daily routine. “My daughters come and eat lunch here and then they go swimming afterwards,” said Gallegos, 32.

“I don’t eat here often, but when I do it’s pretty good.”
Her daughter, 8-year-old Raena Gallegos, agreed.
“It’s fun and it’s good,” she said, just before taking a bite of her pizza.

The Seamless Free Summer Lunch Program is provided by the Portales Municipal School District.
“We took it over four years ago and opened up the school sites so that the customer would have the opportunity to come inside,” said Shirley Chatterton, director of food services.

Chatterton said the Community Services Center, which was previously in charge of the program, made all the food at one central kitchen and then shipped it out to different parks in the town.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback since we have been opening the school sites and letting them (the public) kind of come to us,” said Chatterton.

As a mother, Chatterton said she understands how nice it is not to have to worry about that extra meal. She added that hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.

“It’s just a good way to help keep our kids eating properly throughout the summer,” she said.

Theresa Goodwin, 38, brought her children to the program and said she will be bringing them back.

“It gives the kids a place to go eat, have a good meal and hang out with their friends,” said Goodwin. “It’s a good variety (of food), it tastes good, and it’s nutritious for them,” she added. Her son, Justin Goodwin, 11, said he plans on being there almost everyday.