Feeding Program keeps children full this summer
If it weren’t for the Summer Feeding Program in Dallas County, many children would go without lunches during the summer when they are not fed at school and their parents are at work. The program, which is federally funded through free and reduced lunch initiatives, not only provides food but in many cases helps create a safe environment for play and learning and in some cases offers children Bible study lessons.
Susan Wood, director for the program in Dallas County, is now in her eighth year with the program and said what the program offers the children tugs at her heartstrings every summer.
“We are providing a safe place for the kids, providing a meal and a positive mentor to work with the kids,” Wood said. “We are also providing summer jobs for the site supervisors and that is something huge for the county. The county commission, they do not make anything off of this program. They do this to make sure these kids are fed.”
Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture partners with the Dallas County Commission to provide free meals to children. There are currently 16 sites in the county that are part of the feeding program. Some of the larger sites are Tipton Middle School, Keith High School and Pine Glenn, which are currently distributing about 85 meals a day.
The meals are generally a sub sandwich, two fruits and juice. Each of the different sites has a different time for serving meals, but the time for most is between 10:45 a.m. and noon.
At Shiloh Elementary School Wednesday, the 75 students who attended the Summer Feeding Program got to the school thanks to four area churches, which drive their church vans to pick up children from the area. At other sites, children walk to the school or church.
A worker with Vaughan Community Health Center came to lead exercise activity — Wood said Vaughan Health has provided recreational materials for each site and workers that go from site to site promoting fitness.
The children played with noodles and parachutes, moving around and getting exercise after a healthy meal option for lunch.
“Vaughan Community Health has been great, providing us with lots of different materials for the whole summer at each and also workers who teach the kids about fitness,” Wood said. “You just know that the area you provide for them might be the only safe haven they have.”
She said the site supervisors give far beyond the three hours the program goes on for each day, sacrificing a lot and mentoring and helping the children.
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