By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville School District will offer a summer feeding program to its students at all levels starting June 1 on Henderson Ward Stewart Intermediate School and Sudduth Elementary School campuses.
The program will conclude June 28 at Sudduth and July 20 at HWS, and both locations will serve breakfast from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. Sudduth will be open Monday-Thursday, and HWS will be open Monday-Friday. All children 18 and under can eat free at both locations, and adults can eat breakfast for $1.40 and lunch for $2.75.
Beverly Lowry, SSD director of child nutrition, said the summer feeding program uses federal money the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers to any school site where 50 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Because all four sites qualify, she said, the program is open to all grade levels, but it is concentrated in the two sites most central to the city, making it easier for those without transportation to walk to the sites.
“Learning doesn’t stop when school’s out, and neither does good nutrition,” Lowry said. “(The program) helps (low-income parents) stretch their food dollars over the summer. It gives (SSD) food employees (work) over the summer ... They normally wouldn’t be employed.”
Walter Gonsoulin, SSD assistant superintendent, said the summer feeding program provides bus transportation to and from Starkville’s Boys and Girls Club, and about 60-70 percent of children who participate are involved in other programs which offer transportation to the summer feeding sites. He said the program is not exclusive to SSD children, and the two sites also open their playground space to children.
“I can tell you (summer feeding) is definitely a program that’s heavily utilized,” Gonsoulin said. “I know it’s no less than 500 (children attending per day) at one site. I’m thankful for the program. It’s important because it allows us to still feed children a healthy meal during the summer months.”