By Fred Woods
Opelika City Schools are participating in the 2017 Summer Feeding Program to provide area youth 18 years old and younger a free meal every day during the summer. According to Nancy Olaveson, Child Nutrition Program Director for Opelika City Schools, OCS participated last summer at one location, Carver Primary School, where they served more than 6,000 meals. This year they are expanding to three sites, Opelika High School and Jeter Primary in addition to Carver.
The goal of the Summer Feeding Program is to provide youth in low-income areas with at least one healthy meal a day when school is out. The basic “low-income qualifier” is that at least 50 percent of school-age children in the area receive free or reduced-priced meals through the School Lunch Program. But all young people 18 years old and younger may participate. They do not have to be Opelika residents nor do they have to offer proof of low income.
The program is federally funded and state administered. Meals are prepared and served at local levels by sponsors who enter into agreements with the state administering agency. In Alabama this agency is located in the state Department of Education. Sponsors include schools, local government agencies and faith-based and other non-profit community organizations having the ability to manage a food service program.
Danielle Turk, Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education, who is in charge of the program at the state level, said sponsors get reimbursed by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency administering the program. Some sponsors, including most schools, prepare meals from scratch, some purchase meals from caterers including local restaurants. Turk said her office is working with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry to encourage those preparing from scratch to purchase locally produced foods wherever possible,
Summer feeding menus include such foods as spaghetti with meat sauce, tacos, cheeseburgers, turkey and gravy, cheesy taco pie, chicken fajita wraps. BBQ pork, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken salad, hamburger steak with gravy and Chicken Alfredo.
The Summer Feeding Program in Opelika began Monday, June 5, and will run through July 20 at Opelika High School and July 21 at Carver and Jeter.
Meals are served at OHS from Monday through Thursday from 10 – 11 a.m.
At Carver and Jeter, meals are served Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
For additional information or questions about the Summer Feeding Program in Opelika, call Nancy Olaveson, CNP Director, at (334) 745-9700.
For information about program operations state-wide including other program locations in Lee County, visit www.breakforaplate.com