Two school districts will participate in Summer Feeding Program

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Two school districts in Pearl River County are participating in the summer feeding program this year to ensure children in low-income families will not go without food during the summer.

The Picayune School District and Poplarville School District are participating in this program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services. The aim of the program is to serve hot meals to children during the summer break.

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All children aged 18 years and younger are eligible to receive a free meal as part of the program.

Picayune School District Food Service Director Debbie Byrd said the program will begin on June 4 and last until July 13. Lunches will be provided each weekday from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the South Side Elementary Cafeteria during that time, Byrd said. Adults can purchase these meals at $3.50 per plate. The only day lunches will not be provided during that time is the Fourth of July.

The Picayune School District also provides hot meals to local churches that will be holding Vacation Bible School during the summer.

Byrd said this year 14 churches registered for the program.

This will be the 12th year the District has participated in the program. Byrd said there are children in the community who would go without a hot and nutritious lunch during the summer without the program.

“When the kids come in and thank us, it means a lot as they appreciate the fact that they are getting a meal,” Byrd said.

Last year, the District provided about 10,500 meals to children in the Picayune area through the program. Transportation to the South Side Elementary cafeteria will be provided to children living in the Nicholson area, she said.

Poplarville District Food Services Director Gwen Seal said the school district has participated in the program for the past 19 years, except last year due to a lack of participation.

This year, the program will be offered from June 4 until June 29 at the Poplarville Lower Elementary cafeteria. Breakfast will be provided from 7:30 a.m. until 8:15 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m., Seal said.

Adults can purchase a meal for $3.

Seal said each meal includes an item rich in protein, a fruit, vegetable, milk and bread to meet nutrition requirements.

The last time the District participated in 2016, about 2,500 meals were provided, feeding at least 125 students each day. The USDA reimburses the cost for each meal, Seal said.

“I’m praying there is a good turnout this year,” Seal said.

The Poplarville School District will not be able to provide bus transportation to the cafeteria, she said.