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Feeding the need: Nutrition Program will end July 1

The end of the school year may also bring the end of balanced meals for many children in the area during the summer months.

Cindy Young, manager for the Atmore Child Nutrition Program for the Escambia County Board of Education, is working to keep that from happening.

“At the end of the school year, some children won’t be getting a hot, balanced meal everyday,” Young said. “What we do will keep that from being the case.”

Young, along with four other workers, are busy preparing balanced and nutritious breakfasts and lunches for children in the Atmore area four days a week during the month of June. Meals are offered in the lunchroom at Escambia County High School on Presley Street.

“We started the program on June 1 with breakfast,” Young said. “We will offer breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday until July 1.”

Young said breakfast is served from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. each morning with lunch served from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Workers at ECHS’s lunchroom do more than serve meals at the school, Young said.

“We are very busy everyday,” Young said. “We prepare breakfast for the children that come to the school, but we are also preparing for students at other locations as well. We prepare and deliver breakfasts for students in the Jumpstart program at Rachel Patterson Elementary School and for the Transitions students at Escambia County Middle School.”

Although preparing a meal at home for children may seem simple for some adults, preparing for a crowd is a more daunting task, Young said.

“We have a very busy schedule here,” Young said. “We have had a large number of students participating already. By the time we prepare for the two other schools and the students that come to ECHS, we feed between 250 and 300 children every day.”

Young said the program is geared toward children under the age of 18, but adults may participate for a fee.

“The meals are offered at no charge to children under 18,” Young said. “In years past, adults were not allowed to participate. Many times I would see parents bring their children and have to sit and watch while they had their meal. We are now able to offer the meal to adults as well, but we do have to charge for the meal.”

Young said the meals for adults are the same menus offered to children. Although children are not charged for the meal, adults are required to pay $4 for the meal.

“Each meal that we prepare is a nutritionally balanced meal,” Young said. “We offer fresh, hot meals every day that have all the ingredients required to meet nutritional needs of children.”

Children will find the menu geared toward the typical preferences shown in their diets, Young said.

“We have a good menu that offers good nutrition and something the children will enjoy,” Young said. “We offer things like chicken nuggets, tacos and even pizza on certain days. So far everyone seems to enjoy what we’re offering.”

A complete view of breakfast and lunch menus can be found on-line at www.escambiak12.net (Departments, Child Nutrition Program).

In accordance with Federal law and the U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, the program is offered without discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

“Everyone is welcome regardless of circumstances,” Young said. “There are no boundaries based on race or ability to pay. The only boundary for a free meal is to be under the age of 18.”

For additional information concerning the Summer Food Program, visit the cafeteria of Escambia County High School during breakfast or lunch hours, or contact Young at 368-2341.

Nutrition Program Manager Cindy Young serves milk to a participant Tuesday.|Photo by Lisa Tindell