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Help end summer hunger for kids in our area

This past week, Washington County’s school children headed out of their classroom doors for their 2010 summer vacation.
For many youngsters, summer break is a wonderful time. For them, the formula is sweet and simple: Summer minus School equals Fun and Free Time.
But for far too many kids, the equation is very different: Summer minus School Meals equals Hunger.
More than 20 percent of Tennesseans under the age of 18 — that’s nearly 293,038 children — are at risk of not getting enough to eat, according to a national anti-hunger group’s analysis of government information for the years 2005-07.
There are only three states that have more children than Tennessee who are at risk of going hungry on a regular basis.
The effects of a flat economy and the ensuing increased layoffs will no doubt increase the number of youngsters without regular healthy meals.
But while need has grown, resources haven’t.
The economy also has hurt money and food donations.
During school, low-income children can qualify for free or reduced-cost breakfasts or lunches. But when they go home, only about ten percent of the eligible children get food assistance, according to a 2009 report from the State Department of Health.
According to the same report, that number of children has increased about four percent a year since the middle of the decade.
In the Washington County school system, 55 percent of students qualified for free or reduced price lunches according to Washingon County school officials. That means more than half of our school children are in need when it comes to getting regular meals.
But the help they receive during the school year does not have to evaporate when the last bell rings in the start of summer break.
There is local help available for families and their children.
The State Department of Health coordinates a Summer Food Service. Second Harvest Food Bank and the Boys and Girls Club also have programs in place for assistance. There are many ways we can and should help support these agencies’ important work.
Our children, our most valuable asset, are at risk, and they should not go to bed hungry – in the summer or any other time.
One of the agencies to offer an alternative to summer hunger is the Washington County Nutrition Office, which provides meals to children throughout the summer at no charge to them or their parents.
Listed below is the Washington County Nutrition Office 2010 Summer Program Schedule. Meals will be provided to all children without charge.
Kiwanis Discovery, Legion Street, Johnson City. June 7-July 23. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch at noon.
Asbury Learning Center, Indian Ridge Road, Johnson City. June 1-July 13. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch noon.
Lamar SACC, Jonesborough. June 1 – July 30. Breakfast 8:15 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.
Lamar at Risk, Jonesborough. June 7-June 29. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch 11:45 a.m.
West View at Risk, Limestone. June 7-June 29. Breakfast 9:45 a.m, lunch 12:45 p.m.
South Central at Risk, Chuckey. June 7-June 29. Breakfast 9:05 a.m., lunch 12:15 p.m.
Winged Deer Park, Johnson City, June 1-July 1, July 12-July 16. Breakfast 9:30 a.m., lunch 12:30 p.m.
Jboro Elem at Risk, Jonesborough. June 7- June 29. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.
Kids Choice Daycare, Jonesborough, June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8:15 a.m., lunch noon.
Jboro. Elem SACC, Jonesborough. June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.
Grandview at Risk, Telford. June 7-June 29. Breakfast, 9 a.m., lunch 12:30 p.m.
Keystone Comm. Rec Center, Johnson City. June 7-July 30. Lunch 1 p.m.
JC Boys/Girls Club, Johnson City. June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch noon.
Carver Recreation, Johnson City. June 7-June 23. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.
JC Athletic Club, Johnson City. June 7-July 30. Lunch 1 p.m.
Carver Development, Johnson City. June 7 -July 30. Lunch 11 a.m.
Girls Inc., Johnson City. June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.
Migrant Ed. Project, Johnson City. June 28-July 29. Breakfast 9 a.m., lunch noon.
TLC Daycare Center, Johnson City. June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.
Adventure Program, Johnson City. June 7-June 29. Lunch 12:30 p.m.
Princeton Arts Center, Johnson City. June 14-July 23. Breakfast 9 a.m., lunch 12:45 p.m.
Boones Creek Elem, Gray. June 7-July 1. Breakfast 8:30 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.
Parkway/Dunbar, Johnson City. June 7-July 30. Lunch 11:30 a.m.
Lake Terrace, Johnson City. June 7-July 30. Lunch 1:15 p.m.
BCE at Risk, Gray. June 7-June 29. Breakfast 8:15 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.
BCE SACC, Gray. June 1-July 30. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch 11:45 a.m.
Jboro Middle SACC, Jonesborough. June 1- July 30. Breakfast 8 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.