Huntsville Celebrates 2nd Year Launch of Student Summer Nutrition Program

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Hungry children throughout Huntsville will once again have a chance to have three hot meals this summer through the city school district’s Summer Feeding Program.

“When you have food in your belly, you can learn,” smiled J.O. Johnson High School Principal Eric Jones during a Thursday news conference to celebrate the start of another summer season of feeding kids – and even their parents – all over the city.

The district hopes to surpass the more than 98,000 meals it served during the inaugural program last summer.

That’s a huge success, but Kathy Pace, USDA Southeast Region Senior Community Nutrition Specialist, says there’s still much work to be done to get the rest of the state on the same page as Huntsville.

Girls, Inc. students enjoying lunch at Johnson High School (PHOTO: David Wood, WHNT)

Girls, Inc. students enjoying lunch at Johnson High School (PHOTO: David Wood, WHNT)

“Even though we are serving so many children nationally, here in the state of Alabama really only 7.8 percent of kids who are eligible to receive a meal actually get one in the summer – so there’s just a lot of room for growth,” says Pace.

Of course, free meals are no good if kids can’t get to them. That’s why the city of Huntsville is providing free bus transportation to children who need a ride to a school so they can eat. Students received transportation passes before school let out for the summer.

The passes will also be made available at the meal sites.

This year, breakfast and lunch will be served at Chapman, Dawson, Providence, Ridgecrest and Williams elementary schools and Johnson High School.

Breakfast hours for those elementary schools will be from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Johnson High will serve breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all six schools.

Breakfast and dinner will be served at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and Westlawn Middle School. Breakfast hours for MLK will be from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; Westlawn’s breakfast hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Both schools will serve dinner from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

[Click here for a schedule, and more information about the program.]

The Summer Feeding Program, which is funded mostly through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers three free, hot meals to children 18 and under from anywhere in the city, whether or not they are enrolled in the school district. Adults who accompany the children can eat as well, but have to pay for their meals.

The cost for adults is $2.50 for breakfast and $4 for lunch and dinner.

This year’s program runs through July 18. The schools will not serve meals on July 4.

Meals will also be served to students participating in the Extended Learning Program at Butler High and Lakewood, McDonnell, Rolling Hills and University Place elementary schools, but those schools will not be open to the public.

“We hope this program becomes contagious throughout the state and throughout the nation and we’re happy to serve as the role model providing three, free, hot meals a day,” echoed City Schools Director of Communications Rena Anderson.

[Click here for a map of feeding sites and bus routes.]

10 comments

  • Jessa

    Why no breakfast/lunch program in South Huntsville?? Two of these schools are only 1.8 miles apart. Why not close one of those and open one at Farley? Just wondering.

    • Pam

      If you notice, all those schools are listed as failing schools. The failing schools are clearly associated with students living in “poverty”.

      Essentially saying none of the students in South Huntsville need the free food. South Huntsville would not have enough kids to attend to continue getting the funding needed to continue the program.

  • Al

    I wonder how many are just there because it’s free ? I’m sure are taxes are paying for this..

  • scott

    So what about all the food stamp money these people are receiving during the summer when the three meals a day are provided? I’m not heartless but can’t anyone take care of themselves anymore?

    • Me

      I know right… I know that if we were in a similar situation any children of mine would be eating whether that required me to work all hours or not. As far as I’m concerned those who support things like food stamps should be the ones required to pay for them, not those who disagree with the program.

  • Pierce

    I normally wouldn’t comment, but those with food stamps are likely still only barely making ends meet. Food stamps cover the weekends when the kids can’t get free meals at school. During the school week/year, kids on these programs often get breakfast and lunch at school, and usually don’t eat dinner, or food stamps for the family are just barely covering that. I agree that having at least one location in South Huntsville would be awesome, though. While the visual demographic is much different from what is found the areas already being served, there are divorce and single parent families facing the same odds, just managed to get a start in a more affluent area.

    • Me

      I’m not sure if you’ve ever been on food stamps or not, but I know of several families receiving over 700 dollars a month for 3 people…sounds to me like that ought to cover most of if not all of the bill.

  • ThatsAFactJack

    This program is fully funded by the USDA and has been around since the early 1960’s. You have been paying taxes for this since then and just now are reaping the benefits…at no cost. Hate the program if you want, but bringing our tax dollars back to our area to help our community seems like a really great idea. Also, the school system makes money the more people go….so I recommend everyone from the city and county take your kids and have the kids eat free…regardless of where you live. ANYONE under 18 eats FREE! That means Hampton Cove, Farley, Monrovia, Fayetteville…ANYONE!!

  • End Child Hunger

    No matter what the school district does, there will always be people trying to critique it. I can understand people’s frustration about parents who do not take care of their children, but it is not the children’s fault. I applaud the school district for taking advantage of tax money (already allocated for Summer Meals) and using it to help fight child hunger. By the way, the school district is for the kids, not the parents. So, I can fully understand their willingness to help in this growing epidemic of child hunger. How can helping a hungry child, using money already allocated by the federal government, be a bad thing?

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