A program which served free lunches to children in Summit Hill this summer was a huge success.

Rita Trucios, site manager of the lunch program at the Summit Hill Heritage Center, said a total of 1,922 lunches were served during the summer months.

According to Deb Ranck, chairperson of the Heritage Center, the lunch program is operated through the Pa. Department of Education. She said the department provides reimbursement for the lunches, but not for other expenses incurred with the program.

The program ended Friday with about 75 youngsters attending.

Ranck said because it was the last day, the organizers had a special lunch for the participants steak sandwiches, french fries, and ice cream.

She and Trucios agreed that they are hoping to extend the program next year by opening a site in Lansford, which would provide free lunch for children from Lansford and Coaldale.

Trucios said she would have liked to include Lansford children this year, but couldn't because there was no transportation to bring the children to the Summit Hill site.

"This is the first time for our feeding lunch program," she said, adding that the biggest challenge was getting the word out to the community.

Ranck remarked, "The kids enjoyed the menu based on the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution, with some creative additions by our talented cooks. The 'fave' was of course pizza, but the crew also enjoyed such lunch fare as shepherd's pie, beef Stroganoff, cowboy/cowgirl beans and crust mac & cheese. Just the other day the kids asked if they could have lunch at the center during school because the food was better."

She said she has had requests for recipes served during the summer. As a result, she is in the process of putting together a recipe book.

Permission has been granted from Jamie Oliver, who is a famous chef interested in children's' recipes in both the United States and the United Kingdom, to reprint the recipes, said Ranck.

Anyone wanting a copy of the recipes should send a request to Ranck at the Heritage Center, 1 W. Hazard St., Summit Hill, PA 18250.

Ranck praised assistance she received from Kenneth Leffler, who operates a similar lunch program in Lehighton.

"Kenneth has been our mentor," she said. "He helped us through the whole program."

"If it wasn't for him, I don't think we would have gotten through it as well," she continued.

Trucios said although the program was initially set up for school age children, it fed children between the ages of 2 and 17.

Helping with the program were members and friends of Feed The People and Summit Hill Heritage Center.

"The partnership between the two groups made the program a big success," Ranck said. "Thank you to our many donors from the community who were instrumental in getting the program off the ground so please watch for our thank you ad in the newspapers. Completing the team and doing the Department of Education program paperwork was the Lansford Summit Hill Community Partnership Manager Sara Ruch."

The Feed the People program provides free breakfasts monthly at the Heritage Center.

Ranck said the Heritage Center is seeking donations to help with the free lunch program.

She explained that although the Department of Education refunds the price of lunches, it sometimes takes more than 60 days for such reimbursement to occur.

In addition, there are other expenses involved such as utilities. One of the major expenses which occurred was the installation of a new flash water heater.

All the workers are volunteers, stressed Ranck.

To make a donation, send it to:

SHHC

Attn. Deb and Mike

1 W. Hazard St.

Summit Hill, PA 18250.