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Food programs keeps kids fed throughout the summer

Emily Marino, left, and Kaitlin Marino, enjoy a snack at the library.
Emily Marino, left, and Kaitlin Marino, enjoy a snack at the library before they go on to the summer reading program. 

By COLLIN BROOKS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Summertime might be one of the most anticipated breaks for children as schools let out, allowing for lots of leisure time. However, what some may not think about is that there are plenty of kids who won’t be receiving their school lunches, or for that matter, much food at all during the break.

That is especially true for some of the children in the Washington County School System, which has 65 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

There are programs throughout the county designed to help children and their families get the food they need. The Washington County School System has 12 sites they have set up for their Seamless Summer Feeding Program, according to Washington County Director of Food service Ann Thompson.

“This has always been a big thing for us in Washington County,” she said.

The 12 sites that have been selected by the food service department all have free or reduced lunch percentages over 50 percent. During the summer break months of June and July, Thompson said that approximately 22,000 meals will be distributed. The central prep kitchen is at Boones Creek Elementary School.

Another food program, provided by the Second Harvest Food Bank, is held at the Jonesborough and Gray branches of the Washington County libraries.

Both libraries will serve lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and they will also serve snacks on the same days at 2:30 p.m. The meals and snacks are free and will be available to any child, from birth to age 18.

You don’t have to be in need of food to receive the healthy snack. Jonesborough Library Manager Dorothy Linton has coincided the times for the feeding program and her summer reading program so that kids will be able to come and feed their bellies and their minds.

“Second Harvest really targeted public libraries this year,” Linton said. “This is the first time that we have been asked to do this and, of course, we were happy to do it. I think that they said that there were 60 to 70 sites in Washington County, but this is the first time that they have come to the libraries to try and get them to help.”

The libraries seem to be a perfect place for a program, as the children won’t be ostracized for seeking food as they also try to enrich their minds.

“Any child that is in the library, up to age 18, if they want to come and eat, then they can,” Linton said. “We want this open to anybody that wants to come in.”

In addition, the Jonesborough Library will distribute food boxes on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. which contain enough food to feed a family of four people for three days.

In order to get the box, the only thing that is needed is for the recipient to fill out a form that asks for name and phone number. The reason they need the phone number, according to Linton, is so that if there is a recall on a certain item that is in the box, they are able to let the recipients know not to eat that particular item.

Friday, June 17, was the first day that the library gave out the boxes and they had 12 families come and pick up the boxes, which were estimated to feed 57 people, with 33 of them being children.

For more information please call Dorothy Linton at the Jonesborough Library, 753-1800, or Carey Deyton at the Gray Library, 477-1550.