Picayune, Poplarville School Districts offer summer feeding program

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 7, 2017

In an effort to keep the students of Pearl River County well-fed while school is out, two school districts will offer summer feeding programs at no cost to students 18 years and younger.
This summer will mark the 15th year the Picayune School District has hosted its summer feeding program, but minor changes have been made to include more participants.
Previously, the program has been held at both Nicholson and South Side elementary schools, but due to a lack of consistent participation at Nicholson Elementary, the program will only take place at South Side Elementary, Picayune School District Food Service Director Debbie Byrd said. Parents are urged to contact the transportation office at 601-798-7760 to arrange transportation to South Side Elementary.
“We host this program to provide nutritious meals to those that otherwise would not get them,” she said.
United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services has funded the summer feeding program since 1968, Byrd said.
Byrd said the goal of the program is to ensure every child, 18-years-old and younger, is provided well-balanced meals during the summer months. Adults can also purchase a meal for $3.25.
“The program follows the same guidelines as if we are providing food during the lunch periods during the school months. This program allows us to continue that service efficiently,” Byrd said.
Because Nicholson Elementary will not host the program, children from that area will be bussed to South Side Elementary.
Also, the summer feeding program offers meal deliveries to church youth groups to help lower those expenses for local churches. The program is also shipping hot meals to participants of the local Christian Community Youth Summer Camp, she said.
Byrd said she wants to make sure children and families take advantage of this opportunity to receive well-balanced, hot meals throughout the summer months and keep the participation rate high in Pearl River County. Last year, the program provided nearly 10,000 meals. This year, Byrd hopes to be able to serve 15,000.
“Participation is rising, from the number of kids coming to get lunches to the number of churches getting involved,” Byrd said.
Another change to the program this year involves allowing each child to take home one food item, such as fresh fruit or a bag of chips, Byrd said.
Picayune’s summer feeding program will begin on June 5 and last through July 16 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Meals will not be served on July 4 in observance of the holiday.
“A good, nutritious meal is a crucial part of everyone’s growth, especially for young children who are sprouting the most,” Byrd said.
Poplarville District Food Service Director Gwen Seal said that the summer feeding program will be offered at Poplarville Lower Elementary to the community’s children. The dates for Poplarville’s summer feeding program are being established.
Students 18-years-old and younger can eat for free while, adults are also allowed to purchase a meal for $3.
Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Pearl River County School District is not hosting a summer feeding program this year.

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