Schools help feed a need
Federal and state governments aren’t always known for their ability to consolidate resources, but the Suffolk Public Schools’ summer food program is one that does.
The schools’ food and nutrition services are using its kitchen and resources to provide meals to students through the schools and the city.
“Based on the national average, we know it is a concern that many students and children in the community aren’t getting square meals or meals at all,” food and nutrition services director Brian Williams said. “We know that’s a concern. It’s the reason we provide meals at some of our schools during the summer and partner with [the City of Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation department], which also has a summer food program.”
Using its facilities and employees, Suffolk Public Schools provides approximately 900 breakfasts to students at Nansemond Parkway Elementry, Hillpoint Elementary and John F. Kennedy Middle schools each day through the summer food program, Williams said.
The program provides approximately 300 breakfasts and lunches to the Parks and Recreation department to distribute at its programs or sites it sponsors, according to the department’s director Lakita Frazier.
“It helps children across the city,” Frazier said. “We incorporate it into our programs and other sites we sponsor. With our partnership, we help feed 300 children each summer. Without it, some of the students might not be receiving meals.”
“Just hearing teachers and administrators, we know there is a need for this in the community,” Williams said. “Even the students will come up and tell us they didn’t eat dinner and are hungry.”
The cost of the labor and food is all reimbursed by the United States Department of Agriculture, which also outlines specific nutritional requirements that must be met.
“For breakfast, we deliver a continental-style breakfast,” Williams said. “It’s milk, fruit or fruit juice and two bread servings.”
Lunches prepared by the schools and distributed by parks and recreation are either hot or cold, depending the site’s available equipment.
“Some sites get hamburgers and hotdogs, others will get subs or chicken salad,” Frazier said. “There’s also fruit and milk that come with the meals. The USDA sets out the guidelines for the meals. It’s good that they recognize the importance of the food components. There’s always a fruit or vegetable, milk, grain or bread and a meat or meat alternative.”
Besides the schools, sites that receive meals include community centers, churches and all public housing authority sites, which provide meals to children living in public housing.
For information about site enrollment contact the parks and recreation department.