Cherokee County School District’s School Nutrition Supervisor Susan Turner has been serving summer meals to children through the program for 12 years, and said every year she hopes to improve the program and help feed more children.
“We’ll serve whatever children we have. If we see that there’s a build-up from one day to the next, then we’ll prepare more food, because we just want to serve as many kids as we can,” Turner said.
Last summer, the district provided nearly 65,000 meals to hungry children, and Turner said she hopes to serve even more this year.
“Any student that comes to that site that’s 18 years or under can get a free meal. There’s no sign-up at all,” Turner said. “They just show up and we feed them.”
This summer, the meal program begins June 9 and continues through July 25.
“Every year, I always try to see something I can improve upon the following year,” Turner said. “We can make changes.”
In the Cherokee School District, more than 32 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches during the school year, said School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby.
“More than 12,000 students who rely on a breakfast or lunch at school during the year likely do not have access to adequate food during the summer months,” she said.
The program began about a decade ago through the United States Department of Agriculture Seamless Summer Option for Children program and has been operating in the county ever since.
Turner said the school district works with MUST Ministries summer food programs to be sure the two organization’s efforts don’t overlap.
“MUST also works to feed children over the summer, and kind of partners with us,” she said.
Turner said the meals children receive through the summer food program will be similar to what they’d get during the school year.
Some of the options are popular children’s dishes, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — SunButter and jelly for children with peanut allergies — popcorn chicken, cheeseburgers and pizza.
Along with the entree, children will receive a fruit and vegetable, a whole grain, such as bread or chips, a dessert and low fat or fat free milk.
The summer meal programs will be operating in five locations this summer, including:
• YMCA in Canton: breakfast from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. and lunch from 11 to 11:20 a.m.;
• YMCA in Woodstock: breakfast from 8 to 8:20 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon;
• East Gate Mobile Home Park: lunch from 11:30 to 11:45 a.m.;
• Shadowood Mobile Home Park: lunch from the clubhouse from 10:45 to 11 a.m. and lunch from the playground from 11:05 to 11:20 a.m.; and
• Woodstock High School: breakfast from 7:45 to 8:05 a.m. and lunch from noon to 12:20 p.m.