HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – The Hastings Public School system garnered some nationwide recognition for their summer meal program.

The district won the United States Department of Agriculture’s ‘Turnip the Beet’ award for the second year in row.

It recognizes summer meals sponsors who are going above and beyond to make sure the kids in their care receive high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing.

HPS Food Services Director, Aaron Rogers, said the kids have shown up big time for the meals.

“The first day was about 82, then here at Longfellow we had about 100, and then with middle school starting this week, we’ve had 100 about at each one, or a little bit over 100,” Rogers said. “It’s like 220, I would say, on average right now.”

Rogers said the work his department is doing is important for the future of these kid’s lives.

“I think it’s very important because we’re feeding our future of our country and those kids need a nutritious meal,” Rogers said. “Not only do they get a healthy meal, they’re learning how to eat healthy and nutritious. There’s sometimes kids that just need a meal because they don’t get as much as they should at home.”

Rogers said the people who work to feed the kids understand the responsibility it carries.

“We emphasize when we hire someone how important it is to feed the children,” Rogers said. “That’s our number one job, and if you’re not here, we can’t feed the children. We do anything and everything we can to feed the children. We’ve had trucks not show up, but we’ve still found a way to feed them.”

The elementary summer meal program is offered at Longfellow every week day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There’s also a meal program at Hastings Middle School that also runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., but that’s only offered on Monday through Thursday, and the middle school lunch program last through the month of June.

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