/With school out, summer meals program ramps up

With school out, summer meals program ramps up

Mississippi News, Nonprofit Mississippi’s public schools offer free lunch to approximately 69 percent of students. Summer Food Service Program is a solution to this problem during summer months, when lunches may not be readily available. Scott Clements, director of Mississippi Department of Education’s office of healthy schools and child nutrition, said that there is no way to feed students when school is out. He said, “This program is a way for summer to get a balanced meal.” The federally funded program benefits about half of Mississippi’s public schools districts, along with some municipalities and churches. Clements stated that the 863 Mississippi sites provided 2.3 million meals last year. Participation is open to all children under 18 years of age. Clements stated that the children will simply walk there in the summer, which is fantastic. Clements stated that the best thing about the sites was their safety and supervision. The sites are most popular in June when many schools offer summer school programs, which draws students to school every day. Clements stated that Mississippi is often struggling to attract enough students because of its rural location. “You need to have a certain amount of children participate in order for it to become economically viable.” It can be hard to get to the program locations in the summer months because there are no school buses. However, Clements stated that it works well in urban areas where students can walk to the schools and locations. Last summer, 369,000 meals were provided by 111 locations in the Jackson metropolitan area. From June 4 through July 13, Jackson Public Schools District offers several summer feeding stations that are open between 11 and 12:30 p.m. You can find nearby sites by looking at this map or calling 1-866-348-6479. Or text “Summer Meals to 97779”