Program organizers prepare to feed area's children this summer

Nathan Baker • May 26, 2019 at 12:00 AM

For districts in the area, the school year is coming to an end, but nutrition staff and local organizations are preparing for a busy summer.

Many school districts and partner organizations provide free meals during summer months to help children who may not have food security.

Washington County

Washington County Schools’ Nutrition Department Purchasing Agent and Field Supervisor Kelly Crider said planning for the summer food program starts in March.

“We start weeks and weeks in advance, planning out what staff we’ll need and where we’re going to locate,” she said. “It varies from year to year, but we’ll have around 12 people working to keep everyone fed this summer.”

Because of its advantageous location, the county’s summer food program previously cooked the hundreds of meals served each day at Boones Creek Elementary School, but that school is closing. This year, David Crockett High School’s kitchen will serve as the central location, and the breakfasts and lunches will be trucked from there to the schools serving them.

“Our staff does a tremendous job, and the people we’re serving tend to be very pleased,” Crider said. “We try to offer fresh meals for the children with fruits and vegetables.”

The goal of the program is to reduce hunger in the area, she said. Anyone caring for children this summer, parents, babysitters, anyone, can bring the children to one of the school sites for free meals.

“Hunger is a concern for a lot of people in our area,” Crider said. “We want to make these meals available so nobody has to worry about that. We would love to be able to help.”

Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Lunch is served from 10:45 a.m. to noon.

Meals will be served from May 28 to July 26 at:

— Boones Creek Elementary School

— Fall Branch School

— Jonesborough Elementary School

— Grandview School

— Lamar School

— Asbury Optional High School

— David Crockett High School

Meals will be served from June 3 to June 12 at:

— South Central School

— West View School

For more information, including menus, contact the Nutrition Department at 753-1107.

Johnson City

In some communities, the end of the school year means the end of the opportunity to help the neediest customers. However, since 2008, Johnson City School Food Service has provided summer feeding meals for nearly 1,000 students daily in June and about 300 students daily in July. Meals are provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

Most sites in Johnson City are closed, meaning that students must pre-register for programming. These sites receive breakfast and lunch and include:

— Summer school programs at Fairmont, Indian Trail, Science Hill and North Side.

— Summer Educare Programs at Fairmont, Woodland, Mountain View, North Side, South Side, Lake Ridge and Cherokee.

— Summer Parks and Rec activities at Carver Rec Camp Discovery, Memorial Park Community Center, Winged Deer and Freedom Hall.

This year, North Side Elementary School Library will host an open site Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays where students can come, read and get a nutritious lunch.

The Johnson City Schools Bookworm Mobile will host several open sites Mondays through Thursdays throughout the months of June and July, and students can receive books to go along with a lunch.

The Bookworm Mobiles will be in operation from June 3 to July 25 (except for July 4). Stops will begin at 9:30 a.m. each day and end at 1:30 p.m. Although all of the routes have not been finalized, scheduled stops will include the following: Heritage Trailer Park, Longview, Mountain View, Houston Trailer Parks, Blue Ridge, Stoneybrook Heights, Lake Ridge Villas, Mountain View Road Apartments, Ramblewood Estates Trailer Park, West Walnut Street Trailer Park, Clark Manor Apartments and Tyler Apartments.

Carter County

Carter County Schools’ lunch and literacy program, the READS Bus, starts its second summer of service in June.

The specially outfitted school bus takes food and a small, free library to central locations in the county’s communities.

Director of School Nutrition Lindsey Feathers said staff served more than 1,100 meals last summer, which she considers a successful first year.

“There was a lot of trial-and-error last year, and we really have learned a lot from that,” she said. “This summer, we’ll be able to serve even more children in the community.”

While the meals feed children’s stomachs, the books feed their minds, Feathers said, continuing their education even when school isn’t in session.

Some of the kids are more excited about the reading material than the lunches, she said.

“Elk Mills and Roan Mountain State Park were wonderful experiences,” Feathers said. “The people from those communities were very happy and thankful there. We’ll be continuing those sites this summer.”

The bus also stops at Hampton Elementary School, Central Community Christian Church, Sinking Creek Baptist Church, Keenburg Elementary School, Hunter Elementary School and the old Cloudland Elementary School.

Site schedule:

June 10-13: Hampton Elementary School’s Front parking lot, noon-12:30 p.m.; Elk Mills Fire Department, 1-1:30 p.m.

— June 17-20: Central Community Christian Church, noon-12:30 p.m.; Sinking Creek Baptist Church, 12:45-1:15 p.m.

— June 24-27: Keenburg Elementary School’s Front parking lot, noon-12:30 p.m.; Hunter Elementary School’s Front parking lot, 12:45-1:15 p.m.

July 8-11: Old Cloudland Elementary School parking lot, 11:15-11:45 a.m.; Roan Mountain State Park pool parking lot, noon-12:30 p.m.