The number of free breakfasts and lunches served through LCPS’s Summer Food Service Program is rising like a good soufflé.
The program plated nearly twice as many meals this past June as in June 2016 and is on pace to continue the dramatic group it’s seen for the past three years.
Last month, the program served 16,784 meals – 6,110 breakfasts and 10,674 lunches. A year ago the month’s total was 8,708 meals – 2,492 breakfasts and 6,216 lunches.
An increase was inevitable since LCPS has expanded its schedule of summer academic programs, including a four-day Short Summer School offered for the first time in June. However, the first-month numbers virtually ensure the food service program will break its own record for meals served.
Already, it has grown by about 140 percent since 2014.
Last year, between mid-June and mid-August, the program provided a total of 40,451 meals. A year earlier that total was 29,390. In 2014, it was about 17,500 – not many more than the total from just last month.
“The success of the summer program derives from the passion all of us in the Child Nutrition Department have for feeding our students,” Danelle Smith, child nutrition director for LCPS, said. “We all work together and at the end of each day we feel we have accomplished the highest achievement as a great big team, which is to feed our students a hot, healthy and awesome school breakfast and lunch. We all feel privileged to feed the students of Lenoir County and are happy to serve them.”
This summer, LCPS’s Child Nutrition Department will operate 11 cafeterias at various times, aligned with the schedules of the district’s five academic camps. About 200 students attended Short Summer School. Another 800 students are enrolled in or are expected to participate in other summer academic programs that run into early August.
In addition to feeding those students, the Summer Food Service Program also provides meals for children taking part in summer day camps offered by the Boys and Girls Club of Lenoir County, the Salvation Army, the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department and a number of churches.
“We are thrilled at the increase in our summer feeding program so far this year,” Chrissie Chadwick, child nutrition supervisor, said. “While part of the increase comes from our summer school numbers, our partnerships with the community continue to build and add to our participation numbers. Flexibility and a little creativity have helped us accommodate more organizations and children than ever this summer.”
Thirty-one LCPS nutrition department employees are involved in the program, which is offered through the Federal School Nutrition Program. All meals meet federal nutrition guidelines and, under federal rules, are provided for free to anyone 18 years old and younger.