County CNP begins Seamless Summer Meals program
According to research compiled by the national food bank network Feeding America, nearly 30 percent of all children in Franklin County face food insecurity – defined by the USDA as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
In other words, they don’t have enough wholesome food to eat.
The Franklin County Child Nutrition Program is setting out to make sure, however, that children across Franklin County have access to a healthy, hearty breakfast and lunch each day of the summer, and at no cost to them, through the Summer Food Program.
Throughout the school year, all children in every Franklin County receive free breakfast as well as free lunch. Russellville City Schools similarly offer free breakfast to all students. But when summertime comes, many children face being left home alone while their parents are at work – some without the same type of nutritious meals they enjoy throughout the school year.
Children ages 0-18 can go to Belgreen, Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Tharptown and Vina schools throughout the summer to receive free breakfast and lunch, whether or not they are enrolled in these schools. Breakfast is available from 7:30-10:15 a.m., and lunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Meals must be eaten on-site; no food may be carried off-site.
The Summer Food Program also services Russellville Parks and Recreation’s two summer meal sites, the Recreation Center and the Chucky Mullins Center.
In addition to serving walk-ins, the program also feeds students in summer school, T.R.A.C.K.S. and sports camps throughout the summer. “It ensures the parents don’t have to pack lunches and send with those kids every day,” explained Child Nutrition Program Director Amy Gunderman.
Children must be 18 years old or younger to receive a free meal. They do not have to be accompanied by a parent.
“A lot of kids are at home by themselves during the summer, and this gives them the opportunity to make sure they have a meal during the summer,” Gunderman said.
Meals will be offered through July 22.