Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

May 22, 2012

Organizations provide summer lunches for students

JACKSONVILLE — As schools approach summer vacation, Jacksonville has four locations offering free meals to students through the Summer Food Program.

Jacksonville ISD's Summer Food Program is sponsored through The Texas Department of Agriculture Summer Nutrition Program. JISD will provide breakfast and lunch.

Children up to 18 years old can get a meal at no charge, according to a press release. The service is open to all children regardless of income.Walk-ins will get recorded.

Feeding sites are located in areas where more than 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch program.

Clayton Carter, director of food service with JISD, said the school has participated in the program for seven years.

“Depending on the year, we sometimes feed over a 100 children a day, Monday through Thursday,” he said. “Generally, it can be anywhere between 100 and 150 a day.”

“I love this (program),” he said. “Some might not get breakfast or lunch outside of school and this is a good deal. It's giving back to the community and giving back to the students.”

In addition to JISD's program, The East Texas Food Bank has three locations in Jacksonville offering free lunch to students 18 years old and younger, Karolyn Davis, communication director with the food bank, said.

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Benson Memorial CME church and Zion Hill will serve lunch Monday through Friday.

“The Summer Food Program provides access to many who might have trouble providing food for children in the summer,” Davis said.

Davis said the goal of the food bank is to serve as many children as possible.

“We will serve 160,000 meals for the whole length of the program,” she said.

Davis said while the program is primarily funded through grants, donations help fund the remaining balance. She said donations can be made through the food bank's website.

Kenneth Cain, pastor at Benson Memorial, said this is the first year his church is participating in the Summer Food Program.

“I started pastoring a year-and-a-half ago and and a friend recommended we do the After School Program,” he said. “When I started looking online, I thought the summer feeding program was a good start and we'll work our way to the After School Program.”

Cain said he is attempting to expand his ministry within the community.

Father Mark Kusmirek with Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, said this is the sixth year the church is participating in the program.

“It is a great way to help children during the summer months and at the same time, helping their families,” he said.

Our Lady of Sorrows are also offering to pick up children who live in Jacksonville.

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