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Summer Feeding program kickoff event served food, fun

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CARTHAGE — Replicating a festival full of food and friends, the annual summer feeding program kickoff Wednesday at the village park got families excited about summer fun.

Children jumped rope, participated in Zumba, visited with local emergency personnel and received free toys and health information among conversation with friends during the event, which was held at the Summer Feeding Program’s host site of the Carthage Summer Recreation program.

Summer feeding is a federal program overseen in Jefferson County by the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County and the Watertown City School District. The kickoff was organized for the 17 CAPC-sponsored sites. More than 100 children were expected to attend the kickoff event, but tens of thousands of breakfasts, lunches and snacks are expected to be served through the program this summer.

“These events bring focus to what this is about,” said Sharon A. Bouchard, CAPC’s family center director. “They’re better prepared to go back to school in September.”

Mrs. Bouchard said that is because many recreation sites that participate in the program offer a variety of activities throughout the summer to keep children engaged in learning. Any child younger than 19, or up to 21 if disabled, may attend any CAPC- or Watertown City School District-sponsored site.

“I think it’s really good, too, for the kids to be able to eat healthy,” village resident Shannon M. Wormwood said.

She walked to the park, off Park Drive, with her 7-year-old daughter, Hailey Heesh, from their home downtown.

“When my daughter’s not in school, she’s bored. Kids need something to do,” Ms. Wormwood said.

Wednesday’s lunch consisted of a special meal of grilled all-beef hot dogs, with milk, carrots and pear. While the hot dog is not a typical CAPC protein source for the program, lunches always have milk, fruit and vegetable. Common lunch protein items are peanut butter and jelly, bologna, tuna salad and egg salad sandwiches.

All meals meet the state Education Department’s nutrition standards, Mrs. Bouchard said.

Many community agencies came out Wednesday to support the kickoff, and members of the county’s dairy court served ice cream sundaes, with ice cream and toppings donated by Stewart’s Shops.

The program runs through Aug. 30, with varying times and dates for each site. For specific locations, or to volunteer at a site, call CAPC Family Center Coordinator Mary J. Mathewson at 782-4900, ext. 233, or Watertown City School District food service director Craig P. Orvis at 785-3717.

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