ELMORE CO., AL (WSFA) - Although it's fun for children to put those books away during these summer months, not going to school could mean going hungry for some students.
Elmore County Public Schools has started a new program to help make sure children in the area are fed during the day.
Katabious Sims is part of the Wetumpka Boys and Girls Club. We caught up with him as he helped set up for lunch.
"It's fun. You get to learn. They teach you good stuff. I like it," Sims said about his job helping prepare lunch.
Sims is one of the hundreds of children in Elmore County enjoying free meals during the summer. For the first time, Elmore County Public Schools is providing free breakfast and lunch every day through the Summer Feeding Program. It is available to all children 18 and under and adults with special needs.
"I'm glad they [are] giving us free lunches because some parents might be poor and they don't have enough money," Sims said.
"I have seen it personally growing up in Lowndes County where I benefited from this program as a student," said Dr. Andre Harrison, Superintendent of Elmore County Schools. "Being used to getting a meal in school during the school year and then summer comes and then you have the challenge of being provided with a decent lunch and breakfast."
According to Feeding America, during the school year 22 million children receive free or reduced priced meals, but during the summer months that number drops drastically to 2.7 million.
Elmore County schools is trying to put a dent in that difference, with up to 1700 children or more being fed every day.
"Our free and reduced percentages here in Elmore County run roughly around 54 percent. So you figure over the summer months, 54 percent, we have a large group of parents who have a hard time feeding their children," said Kim Smith, Child Nutrition Program Director at Elmore County Public Schools.
Those who are enjoying the meals are enrolled in other summer programs and must eat on site. These programs range from educational ones through the schools or camps or programs with churches and community organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club.
The sites include:
- All 4 Elmore County BOE Child Development Programs
- WES, CES, ARIS – summer camps in June
- EMS, HMS – 21st Century Program
- ECHS - Athletics
- SEHS Summer School and Athletics
- WMS football, dance, cheer, band
- WHS - Athletics
- Wetumpka Boys & Girls Club
- Millbrook and Wetumpka SOAR
- Bright Beginnings
- Skate Zone 2000
- Crenshaw Community Park
- Millbrook and Wetumpka YMCA
- Millbrook and Wetumpka Head Start
If you would like to find out how to enroll your child contact the Elmore County Board of Education.
School leaders tell us the meals are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. They are hopeful other school systems will jump on board and take advantage of the program as well.