Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2014

Fairfield schools provide lunch to community

By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS | Jul 24, 2014
Photo by: NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS Eight-year-old Felicia Strong enjoys her lunch today at Fairfield Middle School.

For its fourth year in a row, The Fairfield Community School District is participating in the government sponsored Summer Food Service Program.

Any child, between the ages of 2 and 18, regardless of the county they reside in or the school they attend may eat lunch free of charge weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. at Fairfield Middle School.

The program runs for three weeks every year and is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Services agency, which is governed by the United States Department of Agriculture. The program targets lower income challenged areas.

Schools, churches or other community organizations are eligible to become SFSP feeding sites.

“Many communities do have it,” said Fred McElwee, Fairfield school district’s director of auxiliary services. “In this case it’s a school.”

The middle school is an open site, meaning children in the community are welcome. McElwee said that the school district has also participated in the program as a closed site —which means it only served enrolled summer school participants.

Currently, the middle school serves approximately 100 summer school students and an additional 80 students from the community.

“I think it’s great,” said Beth Swafford, a cook at the middle school. “I am so glad that kids get a chance to eat on break. Because some kids come back from break and say, ‘I am so hungry’; it really does me in.”

McElwee said the government provides a stipend of a certain amount of dollars per meal. And there are several guidelines that the approved sites must follow as far as portion sizes and the types of foods that can be offered.

“It’s called offer versus served,” he said “a student has to take three of the five choices for each meal. They are welcome to take all of them, but they do need to take at least the three out of the five.”

Students are required to choose a fruit or vegetable at each meal.

“I chose chicken nuggets, peas, carrots and ranch dressing,” said 8-year-old Felicia Strong.

Eight-year-old Charlie Younger said she loves the program.

“It’s better than my mom’s cooking,” she said.

The children laughed and conversed with each other as they finished their meal.

‘I think it’s a very good idea,” said Kimberly Stark, a school cafeteria worker. “I’m aware of the rising cost of groceries and as a mother of five myself, I am concerned about feeding my kids during the summer.”

The program is at the end of its second week and will end Aug. 8.

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