Summer Feeding Program to head into 16th year

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Picayune School District served close to 10,000 free meals last summer and expects to do the same this year.

This year’s Summer Feeding Program will be held from June 3 until July 19. Meals will not be served on July 4 for the holiday.

According to District Food Services Director Debbie Byrd, this will be the 16th year the program has been offered. As with each year, the Summer Feeding Program offers free meals to children 18 years and younger.

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The program’s purpose is to provide a nutritious, hot meal for children during the summer months when school is not in session.

“All they have to do is show up,” she said.

Byrd said the program will offer the added bonus of allowing children to take home one item, such as a fresh fruit item or a bag of chips.

Adults can purchase a meal during the program for a cost of $3.50.

“It doesn’t matter where they live, even if they are visiting families in the District they can come and eat, too,” Byrd said.

The meals will be served between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each weekday.

She said last year, children were bused from Nicholson to South Side Elementary where the meals are served.

“This year, we will bus both Nicholson and Roseland Park students to South Side for the lunches,” Byrd said. “Parents will be getting a letter soon informing them how to sign their children up for the transportation.”

Byrd said the summer meals will follow the same nutritional guidelines as meals provided during the school year, which are set by the National School Lunch Program.

She said a few years ago, churches were offered the chance to have prepared meals delivered to local Vacation Bible Schools. Last year, 32 churches took advantage of the service.

The meals are made available at the lunch hour or in the evenings for churches.

“The free lunch program was founded by the USDA in 1968 and there are many districts within the state that do participate,” Byrd said.