CHICKASAW COUNTY – School is out and hundreds of kids who might go hungry in Chickasaw County during the summer break will get two good meals a day.
Schools in Okolona and Houlka have embarked on a federal program this week that will see kids 18 and under who were in school last spring get a well-rounded breakfast and lunch.
“We will feed about 200 this summer,” said Okolona Superintendent Dexter Green. “It’s a great program that brings good nutrition to a lot of kids.”
Green said the program is federally funded and involves no local dollars. The meals are served at local school cafeterias by school workers who would normally be off work during the summer.
“Educators know how important nutrition is to learning,” said Green. “Kids who have nutrition deficiencies often have learning deficiencies. This program makes sure kids who need it are fed across the summer.”
Houlka Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums echoed Green’s assessment.
“We started this program about eight years ago and will feed about 50 kids each day,” said Collums. “All parents need to do is drop by and fill out the forms so we can be reimbursed.”
Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from around 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Houston schools do not offer a summer feeding program, but local churches do provide meals through the Southern Foundation Summer Feeding Program that accesses the same funds at Houlka and Okolona.
In Houston breakfast and lunch will be served at Second Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Drive, Center Hill Baptist Church on Gladney Circle and True Bible Way on Airport Road. Meals will also be provided at Calvary Baptist Church in Okolona and at Coleman’s Restaurant in Calhoun City.
Breakfast begins at 9:30 a.m. and lunch at 12:30 p.m.
All meals must be eaten on site.
Meals will be offered June 2 through July 31. Area schools return to class the first week in August.
Across the state this program will provide two million meals to Mississippi schoolchildren this summer.
The program was announced last week by Department of Agriculture officials and community leaders.
“USDA’s summer meal programs help fill the gap for children who depend on free and reduced-price meals when they are in school,” USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe said in a news release.
The Summer Food Service Program will provide more than 30,000 meals a day in Mississippi — two meals a day per child — over the summer.
That’s an increase of 12 percent over the 1.85 million meals — 26,916 a day — provided last year at nearly 400 sites.
One-third of Mississippi’s children live in homes where access to good, nutritious food on a regular basis is limited, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Meals will be provided at schools, mobile sites, low-income housing units, churches and other locations.
The Agriculture Department targeted Mississippi and five other states to boost the program in 2014. The other states are Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada and Texas.
For details, or information on how a church, civic club or community can offer free summer breakfasts and lunches, call 662-213-1301.