Times photo by Betsy ReasonFirst Presbyterian Church youth director Anita Snyder (left), coordinator of the church’s fall-break free lunch program, serves meals to youth volunteers Amelia Craig (from right), Chloe Snyder and William Snyder during the church’s fall-break free lunch offering on Monday. The next lunch is today, with lunch offered again on Oct. 16 and 18.
Times photo by Betsy Reason

First Presbyterian Church youth director Anita Snyder (left), coordinator of the church’s fall-break free lunch program, serves meals to youth volunteers Amelia Craig (from right), Chloe Snyder and William Snyder during the church’s fall-break free lunch offering on Monday. The next lunch is today, with lunch offered again on Oct. 16 and 18.
Noblesville Schools' two-week fall break started on Monday. And to kick off the week, we popped in for the First Presbyterian Church's first-time fall break free lunch program.

The church was so successful for its first summer free lunch program in 2017 that organizers decided to offer a similar program over these two weeks.

A free lunch is served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays during fall break, which runs through Oct. 20. The next lunch is today, with lunch offered again on Oct. 16 and 18.

Monday's kid-friendly lunch offered chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, corn, applesauce, lemonade and homemade desserts -- rice-krispy treats, banana bread and miniature cupcakes -- donated by ladies of the church.

Kids from the church -- Isaac Moore, Amelia and Chauncey Craig, Chloe and William Snyder, Johnathan Baker and Alexa Gordon -- helped ladies of the church prepare and serve the lunch.

But it wasn't just lunch. There was a family-friendly movie, crafts, coloring and board games.

"We wanted to make it an inviting environment by having things to do," said organizer Anita Snyder, the church's youth director and a 15-year church member whose children helped serve the meal. She hopes people "come and have a good time."

During the summer's free lunch program, offered Mondays for eight weeks, the church served more than 300 meals, with new faces every week.

"This summer was fantastic," Snyder said. "Our biggest day, we served lunch to 50 kids. So that was pretty great for our first go at it."

By offering the free lunch program, Snyder said, "We are trying to fill a need for the kids that are going without when school lunch isn't available."

Today, the menu features pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, baby carrots and celery with dip, grapes and more.

Over the summer, Snyder said they served hot meals, fresh vegetables and fruits, and also salads, after a request by teenage attendees.

Also during the summer, the church partnered with community organizations that came in each week to do some kind of activity with the kids. Noblesville Parks brought games to the parking lot. Hamilton County Soil & Water did planting demonstrations and sent home free tomato plants with each child. There were game days, free books and crafts, and face painting by Adrienne Maynard's Fabulously Fun Co. The final week of the summer, kids received backpacks and school supplies, and free coats, with an end-of-summer party.

Also, the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank in Noblesville distributed, to pre-qualified families, take-home lunch packs with ingredients for families to make lunch for the rest of the week. "This is how this (lunch program) got started. We were a place to come pick up those packs," Snyder said. "We thought, 'While they're here, why not offer a hot meal and something fun to do?'"

Attendance at the summer lunch program "was a majority of families who brought their kids and stayed," but there were also a dozen older folks each week from the community who enjoyed a meal and conversation.

"Given our location in the downtown neighborhood, we really try hard to find ways to serve the neighborhood. We have such a nice kitchen and such a big, nice space. We try hard to find ways to let everybody use it."

The free lunch programs are open to any anyone, of any age, of any income. Snyder said, "If you come through the door, we feed you."

She said the free lunch program would be offered again during spring break and summer break of 2017.

Snyder said, "The need is here." -Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com