HASTINGS, Neb. – Hastings Public School's summer lunch program is receiving a 'Silver Level' award from the United States Department of Agriculture. 

According to a news release, Hastings was one of nine summer meal sponsors in the state of Nebraska to be recognized with a “Turnip the Beet” award for its summer lunch program efforts in 2023.

It's the second year in a row the district received this recognition, and only 140 districts were recognized nationwide.

The 'Turnip the Beet' Award was created to showcase sponsors who are going above and beyond to ensure that children in their care are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing.

This year, the summer meal program is being offered at a new location, Longfellow Elementary, in addition to the site at Hastings Middle School.

“We like that we can offer two locations to make it more convenient for our students and the community,” said HPS Food Services Director Aaron Rodgers. “I enjoy seeing some of the same faces through the summer that we see during the school year.”

Lunchtime Solutions is the K-12 food service management company that partners with Hastings to run its food service program.

“Hastings Public Schools is fortunate to partner with Lunchtime Solutions not only during the school year, but during the summer,” said Dr. Thomas Szlanda, Director of Human Resources and Operations for Hastings Public Schools. “The food service provided by Lunchtime Solutions during the summer is valuable to our students and community. We look forward to continuing our partnership.”

According to the USDA’s award criteria, winners showcase their excellence by serving a variety of vegetables and fruits throughout the week; serving whole grains and dairy products; and serving culturally-appropriate meals.

Alliance, Broken Bow, Columbus, Madison, Ogallala, O’Neill, South Sioux City, and York were also Nebraska schools districts recognized by the USDA. 

The Hastings Public Schools Summer Meal Program is free to any child 18 and younger. Adult meals are $5.25.

Lunch is served at Longfellow Elementary School on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. from now until July 31, and at Hastings Middle School also on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. from now until June 26.