Summer food program expands

Published 7:27 am Wednesday, January 30, 2002

By Staff
Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Monday's city council meeting generated sparks as councilman John Watkins and several members of the audience debated the future of Atmore's Summer Food Program.
The debate began after Cynthia Rodgers, Child Nutrition Program Director for the Escambia County Board of Education, introduced a program that would alleviate the city's responsibility in the summer food program and put it in the hands of the National School Lunch Program by a waiver provided from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The motion, which was approved by a 3-5 vote, turned the program's general operations procedures over to the school lunch program outlined by the proposal Rodgers provided.
Rodgers proposed the program expand to more than one location to help provide for the expanded participation expected this summer from the Smartlinks after school education program.
The summer food program, which started in the late 60s, eventually found a home at the old Escambia County Middle School location. The program eventually moved to Gaines Chapel Church after the school was closed two years ago.
The program was moved to the Gaines Chapel location to provide meals in a central location for poorer children who could not afford transportation to other locations.
Watkins is concerned that the addition of another location would decrease participation at the church, causing it to close to children he feels are in need of the program.
Mayor Shell said he feels the program having two sites will benefit the greater good and not necessarily hinder the operation of the Gaines Chapel site.
Councilmen John Garrard, Webb Nall and Jim Staff voted to approve the expansion and turnover, while Watkins and councilman Louie Turner III moved to table discussion on the program to a later date.

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