TAYLOR COUNTY—School may be out for the summer, but the Taylor County Board of Education is preparing to help feed students throughout the county with the federally funded Summer Food Service Program.
The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) kicked off its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) this week at many locations throughout the state.
According to the WVDE, the program supports child nutrition during the summer break when thousands of the state’s school children suffer from heightened food insecurity.
The program brings nutritious meals to 450 sites across the state and is made possible through U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding.
During the school year, approximately 208,000 West Virginia School children depend on free and reduced-priced meals. However, in summer months, food insecurities often persist because some children do not have access to school breakfast and lunch.
Taylor County Director of Child Nutrition, Donette Nines, shared that many students rely on school breakfasts and lunches throughout the school year, but during the summer months some students may go without.
“Many teachers and staff worry about the kids being home for the summer and making sure they are fed while they are gone,” expressed Nines. “We are happy to have the program and be able to help make sure food is available to the students during the summer months.”
“The program is a great way to help kids throughout the summer receive nutritious meals,” said Nines. “We want to feed as many kids as possible throughout the summer.”
Sites are operated by boards of education, schools, churches and faith-based groups, community centers and action agencies, parks and recreation facilities and other organizations.
Last year, these partners throughout the state served an average of 21,000 meals per day for a total of approximately 561,000 total meals.
Here in Taylor County, over 2,000 breakfast meals and almost 4,000 lunch meals were served in 2018.
Currently there are two sites opened in the county, and six more will be opening up throughout the summer.
The program is open to all children, ages 18 years and under. Breakfast and lunch will be served at different sites throughout the county, through various programs. Children to do not need to be participants in the individual programs in order to be eligible for the Summer Food Service Program.
The first site is Taylor County Middle School with Little Feet Daycare and it will be opened from June 3 through August 9, excluding June 20 and July 4. Breakfast will be served from 8:30-9:30 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Julie Dowdy at 304-265-4930.
Grafton High School will also be hosting breakfast and lunch from June 10 until August 9, excluding June 20 and July 4. Breakfast will be served from 7:00-8:00 a.m., and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Lori Shumaker at 304-265-3046.
In addition, the Taylor County Public Library in conjunction with the Summer Reading Program will be hosting lunch from June 20 to July 25, on Thursday only, excluding July 4. Breakfast will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and lunch will be served from 1:00-2:00 p.m. For more information, contact Alisha Whitehair at 304-265-6121.
Anna Jarvis Extended School Year will also be serving meals from June 24 to July 19 excluding July 4. Breakfast will be served from 8:00-9:00 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Suzanne Viski at 304-265-2497.
Additionally, Taylor County Middle School Extended School Year will take place June 24 through July 19, excluding July 4. Breakfast will be served from 8:00-9:00 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Suzanne Viski at 304-265-2497.
Lastly, Taylor County Middle School Band Camp will host lunch from August 12-16, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Josh Chiado at 304-265-0722.
The theme of this year’s program is “Try Something New,” and sites throughout the state will be encouraging children to try new food options.
In addition to having children try new foods this summer, Nines revealed that she is planning on launching an “I tried it” campaign in all of the elementary schools this coming school year.
“The goal is to get the kids to try new foods that we will be featuring on the menu and adding to the salad bars,” she explained. “We also want to give them an opportunity to vote and give their feedback on the menu items.”
Nines shared that she is currently working on the program and plans to continue to develop it throughout the year and more into the middle and high school.
Additionally, Nines reported that she is continuing to work on sourcing as much local foods as possible for the schools.
For more information about the Taylor County Schools Summer Food Program, please call the Office of Child Nutrition at 304-265-2497 extension 119.