Summer food

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

program planned

By Cheyenne Martin, The Messenger

According to last year's State Board of Education Report Card, 82.4 percent of students in the Pike County School system were eligible for free or reduced price meals.

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In Troy City Schools, 55.3 percent of students were eligible.

Many of these students rely on the school lunch program to provide them with healthy, well-balanced meals.

So what happens during the summer while school is out?

The answer is a federal program called Summer Food Service Program.

In the Troy area, the program will be sponsored by the City of Troy and facilitated by Troy City Schools.

Johnnie Mae Money, a social worker for Troy City Schools, is this year's program coordinator.

"This is a free program and we're really encouraging participants this year," Money said.

She said last summer the program averaged 800 students a day and one sight easily serves 100 children.

Money said no child will be turned away from the program unless they are causing serious problems.

"We will suspend a child from the site until we can have a conference with that child's parents," she said.

"If it continues, we will terminate them.

We don't allow any bullying."

Money said the sites are well monitored and the lunches are thoroughly tested to ensure the are safe and nutritious.

The lunches consist of fruit, milk, juice and a sandwich and are made fresh each day in the Troy Elementary cafeteria kitchen.

Each site gets one extra lunch to test for freshness before they serve.

The lunches have to be served within 30 or 45 minutes after the supervisors receive them.

If something is wrong with the test lunch, all of the lunches get sent back to the kitchen.

"We have a lot of little children whose parents go to work early who maybe they don't eat a well-balanced breakfast," Money said.

"This ensures they'll at least get a nutritious lunch that will last them until mama can get home that night and feed them dinner."

Food Service Program sites dot the Troy area and are mostly hosted by churches.

Money said several churches hold Vacation Bible Study in conjunction with the program dates.

The only requirement for hosting a site is that it must be in a low-economic area.

Not only does the program benefit the children, but it also provides jobs for those who administer it.

Each site has a paid supervisor and, if the crowd is large enough, a paid aid.

Van drivers are also paid to deliver the lunches.

Money said the can hire juniors and seniors in high school as long as they are dependable and responsible.

Substitutes for the supervisors are also paid.

Most of the sites are open for five days from June 2-July 18.

All of the sites will be closed July 4.

Lunch is served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during those days.

Each site has a different serving time.

Money said many people call each year wanting to host a program site, but getting approval to use the site takes time.

She suggests interested parties contact her in February.

For more information, call Money at the Alternative Learning Center at 566-4351.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help supervise a lunch site can attend the orientation meeting on May 15 at 3 p.m. at the Alternative Learning Center.

Summer Food Service Program Sites:

Bethel Baptist Church

Church of God in Christ

Dunbar Housing Project

Charles Henderson Middle School

Knox Street Community Center

Lily Baptist Church

Meeksville Fire Station

Murphree Park

New Life Christian Academy

Outreach Endtime Deliverance Church

Segars Street Community Center

Springhill Housing Project

Troy Elementary

Washington Park

Troy-Pike Center for Technology

First Missionary Baptist Church

Church of God in Christ (McClure Town)

Antioch Baptist Church

County Line Baptist Church

Christian Life Church

Morning Star Baptist Church