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Schools' feeding program helps kids fight hunger during summer

Friday, June 21, 2013 6:39 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 22, 2013 2:26 PM
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Along with keeping four grandchildren boredom-free through summer afternoons, it’s Teresa Lee’s job to keep their stomachs from grumbling.

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Wendarius Harris, 11, eats Goldfish crackers during lunch at the May Park Community Center, one of 63 locations in Richmond County serving meals as part of a summer feeding program.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Wendarius Harris, 11, eats Goldfish crackers during lunch at the May Park Community Center, one of 63 locations in Richmond County serving meals as part of a summer feeding program.

She tries to have turkey sandwiches or green salads fixed for them on the table, but that’s not always so easy.

During the school year, Lee’s grandchildren and thousands of other students are entitled to the free breakfast and lunch program offered by the Richmond County School System, but when summer hits, the responsibility falls to families that often need help.

To fill the nutritional void that some families feel when school is out, the system is offering a no-cost summer feeding program to all students 18 years and younger. The program, funded by Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s Bright From the Start, serves breakfast and lunch at 63 locations across the county until the end of July.

“It’s nice to have a place for the kids to eat,” Lee said. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’ll have from one day to the next, so this helps.”

The system’s nutrition director, Josephine Mack, said the schools provided 91,000 breakfasts and lunches last summer. It has been in operation since 1992 and joins at some locations with other camps and youth programs.

Because 71 percent of Richmond County students qualify for free lunches and 6 percent for reduced-price meals, Mack said there is a need for the district to step in so kids don’t go hungry.

“These meals are the same meals the children are used to during the regular school year,” Mack said. “With the economy how it is and with some family situations, we just want them to have the food they’re used to when school is in. …”

On Friday, Lee’s grandchildren enjoyed a lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cheese stick, Goldfish crackers, fruit cup and milk at May Park Community Center, where about 30 youngsters eat each day.

The Bright From the Start program funds summer feeding operations in four school districts across Georgia, but many others are funded by the state Department of Education’s Seamless Summer Option, according to Falita Flowers, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Nutrition Program’s manager.

School systems are reimbursed based on the total number of meals served per site per meal type. Flowers said the program is vital for making sure children are not missing out on meals just because school is out.

“You may have (a) situation where children are not receiving a good, quality meal while out during the summer,” Flowers said. “This allows children to have access to a healthy meal.”

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RMSHEFF
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RMSHEFF 06/22/13 - 07:00 pm
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POPS

You mean Saint-a clause....

RMSHEFF
11043
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RMSHEFF 06/22/13 - 07:12 pm
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Scoob

You are correct. No one can support even one child with a minimum wage job. This is "certain" poverty and dependence on others. This was by design of the democratic party with welfare without responsibility. Surprise.....if you pay people to be irresponsible don't wonder why people will take you up on the offer. The best anti poverty policy is a intact family.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/22/13 - 07:48 pm
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I understand just fine about

I understand just fine about summer. I also know that child labor laws still apply, that the unemployment rate is very high among teenagers, and they are still in school- as in, they haven't completed 12th grade. Get a grip, Charles.

And it's very difficult for a 17 year old to find work. They can't do janitorial work (chemicals); they can't work at a grocery store (box crusher, meat slicer); they have to have a work permit; they can't dispense or sell alcoholic beverages in a restaurant; they can't operate a motor vehicle for an employer except under very strict rules; they can't operate power equipment, like lawn mowers or saws; the list goes on and on. I know that doesn't fit in with your ideas, but there are only so many fast-food restaurants in Augusta that can hire a teenager. Why would anybody hire a 17 year old, that could easily get them into trouble, when so many adults are out of work?

And what you did as a teenager no longer applies. I worked from age 13 on, myself; but times are different now.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/22/13 - 08:32 pm
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The poorest time in my life

The poorest time in my life was when I was married, living in Augusta GA, as the wife of an Army soldier, with my newborn son. Both of us were high school graduates, and both of us were college juniors. That's the only time in my life that I lived in poverty, went hungry, didn't have enough money to clothe my child. That was a terrible time.

All of you love to sit at your computers and spew your stereotypes. The truth is that there are far more poor people than you think, and far more families than you think that are poor. And as employers drop full-time jobs in favor of part-time jobs to avoid paying benefits, it will only get worse.

The idea that the only poor people in this country are single welfare mothers is a myth. It just isn't true. More and more people, who thought they were doing ok, aren't, anymore. Wages just haven't kept place with inflation. and this recession has decimated people.

A median 2 bedroom apartment in Augusta is $690. That means you'd have to earn $36,400 to afford that- and lots of people in Augusta don't. A median 2 bedroom house is $79,900.

There are thousands of people in Augusta that don't earn that- you are talking over $18 per hour. Augusta's main industries are fast food restaurants and call centers. There's a reason that the call centers come here- low wages, a big labor pool.

23% poverty, 8.9% unemployment, no major industries in sight, a municipality going broke- and people want to complain about feeding hungry children a nutritious meal. Sure.

chascushman
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chascushman 06/22/13 - 09:26 pm
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corgimom, 'The poorest time

Unpublished

corgimom, 'The poorest time in my life was' when I was a kid until I was 18. We lived in a house that had only a wood burning stove for heat. We did not have a indoor bathroom. I wore 90% handed me down clothes. I would have breakfast about 6 AM, grits, a biscuit and maybe an egg, before catching the school bus. I would get home about 4 PM and 90% of the time I had NOTHING to eat from the time I left home until I returned home. A lot of the time it was only cold biscuits with butter or piece of fatback. I know all about being poor.

RoadKing
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RoadKing 06/22/13 - 11:24 pm
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All of you love to sit at

All of you love to sit at your computers and spew your stereotypes. The truth is that there are far more poor people than you think, and far more families than you think that are poor. And as employers drop full-time jobs in favor of part-time jobs to avoid paying benefits, it will only get worse.

Correct, and you can thank your hero obumma for it.

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