Summer food program provides nutrition and fun - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Summer food program provides nutrition and fun

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Nearly 80% of the kids in Dougherty County Schools are economically disadvantaged, a status determined by the number of free or reduced school lunches. Now that school is out for the summer, it's important to make sure those children still have access to food.

That's where the city's summer food service program comes in. 

As much as kids groan and complain about school, when summertime hits, boredom is usually close behind.  "When you're at home, you don't have friends or nothing to do," said K'Neciana Roberts.  That's why she comes to Shackleford Park each day at lunch.

It's time to hang out with new friends.  Roberts said, "We're playing with arts and crafts and we have fun."

And after the fun, comes the most important part of the day, lunchtime. Five days a week, the recreation department passes out lunches to 1,000 kids throughout the city as part of the USDA's summer food service program.

Christopher Campbell said, "It's a good program because it allows them to get a nutritious meal during the summer months when they might not eat because they're not in school."

And the best part is, these kids don't have to pay a thing.  Park Supervisor Jorrad Wright said, "To me, it's a good thing we're helping the community, helping kids out, so they can have something to eat."

Alexusis Phillips comes for the fun and the food. While she could eat lunch at home, she knows other kids who might not be able to. "I would tell them to come out and play with us and eat."

Leaving with a full stomach and a full smile. "Everyday. Everyday," said Wright. "Plus, my team always wins." Also taking away those all important bragging rights.

All kids 18 and under are allowed to participate in the program. All they have to do is show up to one of the sites in the city between 11 and 12 and sign in.

The 8th Avenue ball park is a new site this year, they are hoping to get the word out and that more kids will show up to all of the sites next week. The program runs through the end of July.

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