CLARKSDALE, Miss. — A highly successful program that provides summertime meals for Coahoma County, Mississippi youngsters has officially kicked off.
It’s called the Summer Feeding Program, and it received a “thumbs up” from parents and kids.
“Grapes, cookies, apples and chips,” one youngster found in his paper sack.
It was just a sample of what Coahoma County kids could expect if they take part in the annual Summer Feeding Program.
Twenty-one sites have been set up in Coahoma County, including some schools, where youngsters 18-years-old and under can get breakfast and lunch while out of school.
Tuesday at this year’s official kick off in Clarksdale, dozens of kids got a tasty preview of what the program provides.
“Pizza, water, popcorn, water and pineapple,” said a group of boys and girls.
2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which has already provided funds to Coahoma County’s twenty-one meal “sites.”
Robin Bailey, USDA Southeast Region Administrator, said meal “sites” were carefully chosen and government money wasn’t just “handed out” to well-meaning people who want to provide meals.
“The criteria is more based on where you can have a site located. And it has to be in a community where you have a least 50% of the children in that area receiving free-reduced price meals,” said Bailey.
At school locations, the program would also provide activities for kids like tutoring and art classes.
But Pauline Rhodes, Supt. of Coahoma County Schools, said the focus was on making sure participants received a nutritious meal.
“We know that our children perform better if they’ve had something to eat. And a lot of times parents, because they’re working, children eat snacks all day long. So we’d like to feel good knowing that our students have had a good breakfast and a good lunch,” she said.
Arthurine Williams enrolled her five children in the program, which she said did a lot more than just fill their bellies.
“We’ve always participated in the Summer Feeding Program. They provide nutritional meals. They provide some learning skills because they believe every moment is a learning moment,” she said.
The Summer Feeding Program runs through July, and no registration is required.
In addition to meal “sites” in Clarksdale, there are “sites” in Bobo, Coahoma, Dublin, Jonestown, Lyon, Lula, Matson, Rena Lara, Rich, Rudyard, Sherard and Stovall.