Fundraising campaign saves Granite Falls summer lunch program

GRANITE FALLS — A program to provide kids in the Granite Falls School District with hot lunches this summer has been saved thanks to an outpouring of support from the community.

The program had been funded by a federal reimbursement program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This year, however, the program lost federal support due to a change in how community need is calculated.

That need hasn’t gone away. About 45 percent of the district’s 2,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Last year the summer lunch program served an average of 55 students per day and as many as 120 students per day.

That motivated Carl Cary, the board’s community liaison, to find another solution.

Cary and the nonprofit Granite Falls Community Coalition set up a fundraising website at www.gofundme.com/73v60k to raise the $12,000 necessary to serve lunches five days a week through the summer.

As of Friday, the fund had raised about $7,500. That doesn’t include an early pledge by Holy Cross Catholic Church, which is affiliated with the local food bank, for $5,000.

“Obviously we haven’t got that money yet, but by our calculations we’re there,” Cary said Friday.

“It’s unbelievable news, in the time frame we had to put this together,” he said.

Cary first approached the coalition in mid-May, and the coalition was able to rapidly get a fundraising site up and running, said Heidi Hutchins, president of the Granite Falls Community Coalition.

The coalition was established 10 years ago in response to the reputation Granite Falls developed as a hotbed of methamphetamine abuse. It currently hosts a variety of programs designed to build a stronger community and families.

“Giving these kids a place to go during the day in the summer generally keeps them safe and away from drugs,” Hutchins said.

The funding is probably enough to last through the third week in August, Hutchins said, after which the school district is preparing the schools for the next academic year.

“We were shooting for $12,000, and since we were over that we’re sitting down with the district next week to figure out the details,” Hutchins said.

The multipurpose room at Granite Falls Middle School is already reserved, and lunches will be available for all comers as if there had not been any change.

“It’s starting June 16 no matter what,” Cary said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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