This summer, Mountain View Elementary, with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will offer free meals for all Ashe County children.
“More than 12 million low-income children across the country may go hungry this summer and all because they do not know about a free food program available to all kids,” read a press release issued by Ashe County Schools Child Nutrition Coordinator Angie Thompson. “The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, Summer Seamless Option (SSO) provides nutritious meals to needy children during the summer.”
According to the USDA, only 20 percent of children who are eligible for free and reduced price school meals during the school year will get the food they need this summer. Those that do, may not be eating the nutritious food they need on a consistent basis.
“We need to spread the word so that more families, parents and children know about this program and can find a site in their community,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. “I encourage parents and sponsoring organizations to work with their schools to send Summer Food Service Program flyers and other outreach materials home with students. Summer Foods Service Program is vitally important to the millions of kids who eat school lunch and school breakfast during the school year but have no nutritious alternative in the summer.”
Concannon said only three million of the 22 million students who receive free or reduced price meals in the National School Lunch Program participate in a summer feeding program either through the SFSP or through their school.
“When school is out, thousands of kids must search for meals outside of their school cafeteria - and too often these foods cannot be found at home,” according to Thompson’s release.
The Summer Foods Program closes that gap in Ashe County by providing free meals to kids under 18 between Thursday, June 7 and Friday, July 27.
Breakfast is being served from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. -12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Mountain View Elementary School cafeteria. Breakfast and lunch menus are also available at the Ashe County Schools Child Nutrition website.
On Friday, June 15, the program offers assorted cereals, a slice of toast, 100 percent fruit juice, and skim or 1 percent white milk for breakfast. Pizza dippers with sauce, green peas, cantaloupe, and milk rounds out the lunch menu.
“Last year, we held the program at Westwood,” said Thompson. “This year, we’re having it at Mountain View. We try to schedule it wherever it’s most convenient for kids to come often.”
Summer camps, including 4-H, take advantage of the Summer Foods Service Program but Thompson said more parents and children would take advantage of the program if transportation was available.
“This is a big county and it’s spread out,” said Thompson. “There are so many kids here that need this sort of program, but they have no way to get here.”
Thompson said parents out with their children are welcome to stop by and take advantage of the program as well.
“If you’re out with your children, stop by and eat with us,” said Thompson. “Any kids in the county can show up, and we’d love it if more people would come. If you’ve got six kids in your family, bring them on. All six will eat for free and adults can eat for just $3.”
Summer meals sites throughout the country are located at libraries, schools, family centers, park and recreations centers, faith-based organizations, day camps, and many other locations where children come together during the summer months.
For further information, contact Ashe County Schools Child Nutrition Coordinator at 336-246-7175 or the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services Office of Public Affairs Atlanta Office at 404-562-1811.