HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Free meals are back for the summer. Monday, Huntsville city school cafeteria workers began serving up hot dishes as part of the system's free summer feeding program.
It's the second year in a row the Huntsville city school system has participated in the program. Any child age 18 and under may come to a participating school and eat three meals a day free. The child need not be a Huntsville student. Any adult may also eat for a small charge as long as they are accompanying a minor.
What makes this program so extraordinary is the cost. There is none. It's entirely covered by a USDA grant that's been around since 1968. However, the number of children participating helps to determine the funding. So, the more who come out this summer, the more the system can serve next year.
"By your children participating, you may be helping other children because we have to raise enough money to pay our expenses,” said Joey Vaughn of Huntsville City Schools. “That's the only thing about the program. You're reimbursed by child. So, the more children come in, the better. Bring your children and help some that may need it," he added.
Last summer, the system served nearly 100,000 meals. This year, directors hope to do more. They say a new partnership with the city should help them in that goal. The city is providing free bus passes to anyone in need of transportation to a feeding site. The passes are available at the participating schools.
The meals are provided Monday-Friday. The program ends July 118th. Until then, you'll find breakfast from 7:30 until 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the following schools:
Johnson High School will serve breakfast from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Two other schools will serve breakfast and an early dinner.
Those hours are listed below:
Martin Luther King, Junior Elementary
-Breakfast: 8:30-9:30 a.m.
-Dinner: 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Westlawn Middle School
-Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.
-Dinner: 3:00-5:00 p.m
While there are other communities taking part in the free summer feeding program, Huntsville offers three full, hot meals. Most other cities offer only a cold breakfast and pre-packaged cold lunch items. The USDA would now like to use Huntsville's program as a model for other areas. To that end, agents with the USDA plan to join state and local officials for a news conference Thursday in Huntsville.