Securely hidden in a little nook of a quiet neighborhood, Field Elementary School is a gem for those searching for a peaceful community lunch. For seventeen years, Theresa Rayfield has been overseeing the summer meal for children at Field. It is apparent that she loves her job and her community in that she will go to any length to be sure children are fed. To advertise the program, she went door to door in May passing out flyers for the program. She repeated the process the end of June in order to let the parents and guardians know that they can now receive a free meal with their children. Each month she hands-out menus to inform the families of the daily meals; a little gesture that seems to make a world of difference to the children. A final action taken by the Field lunch site is that they bus children in for lunch. Monday through Friday, a bus picks-up children from a nearby neighborhood, including a pre-school, and brings them to the lunch site.
I spoke with one group of six or seven children who ride the bus for lunch. They have made it every day for lunch this summer. When I asked them if their parents were at home, the spokesgirl of the group informed me that her cousins lived with her for now and her mom was in school. Each day when they go to lunch, Mom goes to class, knowing her children are safe on the bus and getting a free nutritious meal.
During lunch today, parents, children and child care providers all greeted Theresa with a smile. When I spoke with many of the parents and children, it was clear that they all appreciate the program. They were eager to chat and share their stories, no prodding needed on my part. The open and welcoming environment brought goosebumps to my arms on many occasions as I heard their accolades and thanks for the program.