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Summer food program for Washington County youth expanded to six more sites

Bester, Winter Street and Salem Avenue elementary schools in Hagerstown are open sites for meals

June 09, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Jeffrey Proulx, Washington County Public Schools supervisor of food and nutrition services, shows the breakfast cereal packs provided for summer food programs.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Thousands of free breakfasts and lunches will be served this summer to Washington County youth as the public school system expands its summer food program to six more sites, according to a school official.

Most of the schools that offer the meals are where summer school programs are being held, said Jeff Proulx, supervisor of food and nutrition services.

But three schools are open sites for breakfast and lunch, meaning students do not need to be enrolled in a program at the school to receive a meal, Proulx said.

Meals at those three schools are open to students, up to age 18, regardless of whether they are enrolled in a summer program or in public school, Proulx said.

The three schools are Bester, Winter Street and Salem Avenue elementary schools in Hagerstown, Proulx said. These sites will begin offering meals on Monday.

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Last summer was the first time the school system ran open sites for breakfasts and lunches, Proulx said.

“(It was) Just a desire on our part to serve as many kids as (we) could,” Proulx said.

“We do summer meals because we recognize there are families in our community that struggle to put food on the table every day,” he said.

So when the school system has an opportunity to feed children, as they do through summer enrichment and remedial programs, “that’s a good thing for the community,” Proulx said.

Making sure youths are fed during the summer helps prevent learning loss because students soak up knowledge when they are nourished, he said.

Parents last summer could buy a meal at the open sites, but not many parents did, so that option is not being offered this year, he said.

Breakfast meals will consist of a cereal bowl pack with a General Mills whole grain cereal such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch or a variety of Cheerios, Proulx said. The students also will get a bag of crackers or Pepperidge Farm goldfish, 100 percent fruit juice and fat-free regular milk.

Lunch will vary with a three-week menu cycle, Proulx said. Entrees will include hamburgers, turkey and cheese sandwiches, chicken-patty sandwiches, minichicken tacos and cheese quesadillas.

Lunch will consist of one entree, a fruit, a vegetable and fat-free white or chocolate milk, he said.

Last summer, 8,429 breakfasts and 17,448 lunches were served at the open and summer school sites, Proulx said.

There are no income-eligibility restrictions for students to receive the meals at either the open sites or at summer school, Proulx said.

Most of the schools involved qualify for federal funding for the meals because they had at least 50 percent of students who were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches during this past school year, Proulx said.

Summer programs with at least 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-priced meals also will use federal funds to pay for meals, he said.

If school system officials find that a summer program — once rosters are finalized — doesn’t qualify for federal funding for meals, it will pick up the cost for students who don’t qualify for free meals and the cost difference for students who qualify for reduced-priced meals, Proulx said.

The school system last year didn’t have to pay anything for the meals because every site qualified for federal funding, he said.

The program is being offered at five new schools this summer because they are hosting summer learning programs, Proulx said.

Those schools are Paramount, Potomac Heights, Emma K. Doub, and Conococheague elementary schools, and Ruth Ann Monroe Primary.

One of the summer school sites where meals will be provided is Hagerstown Community College, which is hosting a science, technology and engineering summer program for middle schoolers, school system officials said.

Summer meal sites

The 2012 Summer Food Service Program will operate at three open sites and 34 summer school sites, according to the Food and Nutrition Services Office of Washington County Public Schools.

Open sites

Free breakfast and lunch will be available to all Washington County children under age 18 from June 11 to Aug. 9 at the open sites. The meals will be available Mondays through Thursdays only, with breakfast at 9 a.m. and lunch at noon, at the following sites:

  • Bester Elementary School
  • Salem Avenue Elementary School
  • Winter Street Elementary School

 
Summer school sites

Free breakfast and lunch will be available to students participating in summer school programs at these sites:
 

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