Break for a Plate opens registration for sponsors

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Last summer more than 3,000 children in Selma and Dallas County were fed each day through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Break for a Plate Summer Food Service Program.

The program is designed to provide daily nutritious meals to children 18 years old and younger while school is out for summer.

Break for a Plate is a federally-funded program that is administered through the state. The program reimburses sponsors, who provide free, healthy meals during the summer.

Last year, the county and city served as sponsors for the program and offered 59 different feeding sites combined. Each site can serve two meals a day, breakfast and lunch. From 2013 to 2014, the number of sites in Alabama grew from 652 to 926.

According to the Alabama Department of Education, the city served 39,968 meals, and the county served 5,217.

According to the program’s website, child hunger and malnutrition lead to stunted growth, risk of illness, obesity and hospitalizations, as well as poor school performance, disruptive behavior and emotional problems.

The signup period for sponsors and sites opened Wednesday. The Alabama State Department of Education is encouraging schools, nonprofits and other organizations to sign up.

Organizations that can serve as a sponsor are public or private schools, public or nonprofit private residential summer camps, local, municipal, county or state government, a public or nonprofit college or university or a private nonprofit organization.

Dallas County Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Kim Ballard said the county will participate again this year just like they have in the past.

“It’s a decent meal the kids get each day, and we have a huge amount of participation,” Ballard said.

Susan Wood, who directs the program for Dallas County, said anyone interested in serving as a site should contact the Dallas County Commission.

“I think it is a great service for the community. I’ve noticed the state is even sending out additional information on doing different games and trying to do more enticing things to keep the kids there and keep the coming,” Wood said. “It does provide a safe environment, and they’re getting a nutritional meal.”

The Break for a Plate sites also provide a safe place for children to spend part of their day. Some of the sites offer games and recreational activities.

For information on signing up to be a sponsor, call the Alabama State Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Programs at (334) 242-1988 or visit www.breakforaplate.com.