School summer feeding programs persist despite rising costs

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - Elmore County Schools’ child nutrition director, Cacyce Davis, has been hard at work prepping for the school system’s summer feeding program.

On Tuesday, the county will have enough meals to serve more than 7,000 kids.

“About 52% of our students are eligible for free-reduced meals, so we know there’s a need,” Davis said.

It’s a need that is met every summer, but this year is different. Inflation has made the cost of groceries more expensive, meaning even more families could be relying on these programs.

“Families are feeling a huge hit to their family budgets, not just in the cost of food, but also the cost of gas,” she said. “The feedback that we’ve received from families is this is just a great help.”

Each meal kit contains five meals for the week. Those who need one can visit Holtville Middle, Eclectic Middle, Wetumpka Middle, Coosada Elementary or Redland Elementary each Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

To pull it off with higher costs and supply chain issues has been tricky. Team members have had to shop at grocery stores in both Montgomery and Birmingham to meet demand.

The summer feeding program is also teaming up with local farmers.

“In order to provide the amount of fruit required to be a reimbursable meal, it’s been a little bit difficult to get that amount in the fresh produce that we want to provide,” Davis said.

The child nutrition director said the program is a big relief for those who are struggling, but she added the COVID-19 funding that allowed the program to expand is set to expire in June.

“They’re about to go from having their children’s meals at school go from zero to $2.75 each day for a lunch,” Davis said.

She wants the lawmakers to extend that funding into the upcoming school year to help keep more bellies full.

Montgomery Public Schools is also offering free summer meals. MPS’ program lasts from June 6 to July 7. Children must be 18 and under. Food will be offered at a variety of locations with varying times.

Those interested should call the MPS Child Nutrition Central Office at 334-223-6925.

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