Summer Food Service Program sees lower attendance

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Mississippi Summer Food Service Program is offering free breakfast and lunch for children 18 and younger at Poplarville Lower Elementary and Green Grove Baptist Church until June 28, said Child Nutrition Director Gwen Seal.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8:30 and lunch is from 11 to 12:30 at the locations in Poplarville, said Seal. Any child who wants a free nutritious meals simply has to show up. They do not need an application, qualification or form of ID, said Seal. Adults can eat breakfast for $1.50 and lunch for $3 during the weekdays, said Seal.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has been running for 20 years, said Seal.

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“I believe (the program) important for children who may be home and not have proper nutrition for breakfast and lunch,” Seal said. Mississippi has above average food insecurity, according to the USDA website. Regionally, the food insecurity rate was highest in the South with 13.4 percent of households reporting that they have trouble purchasing nutritious food in 2017, according to the USDA website.

Attendance at the Mississippi Summer Food Service Program in Poplarville is lower than in previous years, Seal said. The highest attendance so far this summer has been 60 people between the two sites, Seal said. Summer schools in the District used to be bigger, Seal said, and that aspect increased participation in the summer food service program.

“Our school district is very rural, so I think that may be a hindrance,” Seal said.

Parents cannot take off work to bring their children for meals, Seal said. People who are able to attend the breakfast do enjoy it, she said. The menus in the month of June include barbeque sandwiches, chicken nuggets and pizza with sides like fruit, green beans and corn.

The Picayune School District is also serving meals at South Side Elementary until July 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each weekday except for July 4.