By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (May 23, 2016) – The school year is winding down, but the job of child nutrition workers is not done.
Healthy Summer Meals for Kids, a program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, serves free meals to all children 18 years old and younger. The program is open to residents, visitors or children who are simply passing through the local area.
The meals are available across the state and served at schools, parks and within communities faced with food insecurity. Two programs will be held in Erath County – in Stephenville and Dublin – and several others within a 30-mile radius.
The Stephenville ISD program begins Tuesday, May 31 and continues through Friday, June 24, according to Child Nutrition Director Mona Little.
Breakfast will be served 7:30-8 a.m., and Little said food items will vary daily. Morning diners can expect entrees like pancakes, sausage and biscuit or chicken and biscuit. Each meal will also include fruit and juice.
Lunch, available 11 a.m.- 12 p.m. (noon), will offer entrees like steak fingers, popcorn chicken or hamburgers accompanied by fruits and vegetables.
The free meals will be served at Hook Elementary Monday-Friday. The school is located at 1067 W. Jones Street.
Little said the program doesn’t include a registration or qualification process.
“Children who are in need of a meal simply show up during the designated time,” she said.
The selection of districts accepted into state program is determined by need. During the 2015-16 school year, an estimated 50 percent – about 1,750 – Stephenville ISD students were on the district’s free or reduced lunch program, according to Little. Many of those students have younger siblings at home who don’t benefit from free or reduced meals during the school year, but they are welcome during the summer feeding program.
“District enrollment is not a requirement,” Little said. “Older students tend to bring their younger (not yet in school) siblings.”
The requests all children be accompanied by an adult or older sibling and not dropped off at – or sent to – the campus at mealtime.
Meanwhile, at Dublin ISD, where 80-85 percent of students are on the district’s free and reduced meal program, will have extended dining times. But the meals will only served Monday-Thursday at Dublin High School, located at 2233 E. State Highway 6.
The Dublin program will be held Wednesday, June 1 – Wednesday, June 29. Breakfast will be served 7:25-9 a.m. and lunch will be available 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Information on programs outside of the county can be found online at summerfood.org, by calling 211 or by texting FOODTX to 877-877. Individuals obtaining information from the state website are being advised that some of the information provided, including the times the meals are served may not be up to date. Once you find the nearest site to your physical location, call to confirm meal times.