Originally created 12/24/06

Aiken housing agency will administer summer food program

Aiken County Council's development committee approved a proposal Dec. 12 to transfer oversight of the summer food program from the county to the Aiken Housing Authority.

"This program has become more and more difficult to operate annually," County Administrator Clay Killian said. He estimates the county spends $18,000 to $19,000 yearly on operating costs for the program: "We think we've found a win-win here for both organizations."

The food service is a federally funded program that acts as an extension of the school lunch program. During the summer, underprivileged Aiken County children are served breakfast and lunch at approved sites.

In a letter to Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Brian Sanders, Reginal Barner, the chief executive officer of Aiken Housing Authority, wrote that the authority would continue to meet the nutritional needs of more than 3,000 program participants.

"The administration of the Summer Food Service Program is in line with our agency's vision, and in previous years we have been an approved site and know firsthand the benefits the program has provided," he wrote.

The South Carolina Depart-ment of Social Services, which supervises the program, supports the transfer.

Mr. Sanders said the county has only one monitor to oversee 60 sites where meals are served.

"The Aiken Housing Authority has access to resources from the federal government that we don't," he said.

Mr. Sanders also said the authority would be able to open more sites to serve more children. And the authority would be able to offer 12 positions to college students to help with the program.

Aiken County has operated the U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored program since 1986.

"If you go to some of those sites and you see those children, you know that's the only meal they get," Councilman Willar Hightower said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395 or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.


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