While many Oxonians plan summer vacations, others are struggling to plan their next meal.
“Sadly, there are kids across America who eat poorly or go hungry during June and July,” said Tim Howington, director of child nutrition for the Oxford School District. “The Summer Food Service Program bridges that gap by providing healthy meals, for free, from June 1 to July 22, and all of our meals meet the USDA nutritional requirements set forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015.”
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program began in 1968, with a mission to provide free, nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas to help them get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow throughout the summer months. As of 2012, there were almost 39,000 provider sites and more than 2.28 million children participating in the program.
According to Howington, Oxford’s program is funded by USDA and administered by the Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Child Nutrition. “Any organization can apply to host a Summer Food Service Program site, but schools are conveniently set up to do so because they already have a relationship established with USDA through the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs,” he said.
Last year, Howington said that the Oxford program served 350 meals per day (around 12,000 meals) over the summer. This year, they hope to serve 400 meals per day, or about 14,000 total meals. “It’s important for children to eat healthy food during the summer and we want to do our part to support the health and growth of all children,” he said.
Summer camps, boys and girls clubs, daycare facilities and any other organization with children are all invited to walk over for breakfast and lunch, according to Howington.
While not free for adults, Howington added that the summer meals are available and very affordable for those over 18 as well. “For adults, breakfast is $1.75 and lunch is $3.75, which are very reasonable prices.”
Also very important to note, the Summer Meals Program is not just for Oxford School District children. “All children under 18, no matter where they are from, can eat breakfast and lunch for free June 1 to July 22,” said Howington. “There are no forms to fill out, no applications are necessary, and we do not check IDs. We only ask that parents accompany all children under the age of 12.”
Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and includes items such as chicken & biscuit, breakfast pizza, and pancakes. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with meals ranging from taco salads to ham and cheese subs. Find the full menu here: http://www.oxfordsd.org/Page/5279
To learn more about the Summer Meals Program hosted by the Oxford School District and held Monday through Friday at Oxford Intermediate School at 501 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., visit www.oxfordsd.org/summermeals or call 662-234-3541.
To find out additional information about the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which sponsors the Summer Meals Program, visit http://tinyurl.com/juspydf. See a video of more communities participating in the program here: http://tinyurl.com/jyh9l6q.
Liz Barrett Foster is the EatingOxford editor for HottyToddy.com, an award-winning business journalist and author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History. Liz ran the popular restaurant information site EatingOxford.com from 2009 to 2015. Liz can be reached at email@example.com.