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Summer Feeding program in Jefferson County served 19,000 meals/snacks

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The federal summer feeding program in Jefferson County served fewer children through fewer sites for the 2013 season, but that is something the overseeing agency already is working to change for 2014.

Mary J. Mathewson, coordinator of the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County Family Center, said the agency already is ramping up its efforts to involve more sites, volunteers and menu options to entice more children to visit participating sites for free breakfast, lunch and/or snack.

“It’s important, of course, to the agency, but to the community, so we can get out there so (children) can get free, nutritious meals,” she said. I’m not sure if any one thing contributed this year.”

Throughout the 2013 season, a total 18,999 meals and snacks were served at the 17 participating sites throughout Jefferson County. According to a CAPC news release, on average, 454 children were served breakfast, lunch and/or snack daily through the federally funded program.

Improvements eyed for the 2014 season include various ways to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables. A standard lunch, for example, might include a cold sandwich, milk, and plain servings of both fruit and vegetable. Breakfast might include cereal, milk, juice and fruit. Snacks come in a variety of forms, from dry cereal to cheese and crackers.

“It’s in its infancy stages,” Mrs. Mathewson said, regarding a plan for summer feeding program improvements.

Dawn M. Cole, CAPC deputy director, said expenses associated with the total 2013 program are $49,880, and the agency anticipates total reimbursement of $49,400. She said the entire program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but funds are filtered through the state Education Department.

This year, according to the news release, more than 80 volunteers helped serve 937 breakfasts, 11,055 lunches and 7,007 snacks.

To help increase those numbers, other ideas the agency had is to offer multiple kickoff events, instead of one main one; increase promotion, increase activities at sites for children and increase the number of sites. Mrs. Mathewson said more sites are needed throughout the county because “no matter where you are, kids are hungry.”

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