Decatur Co. School System provides free summer lunches

Published 8:59 am Monday, June 13, 2022

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School is out and summer is here. While many students are glad to be out, there are some that rely on the lunches provided by school. Fortunately for them, the Decatur County School System provides free breakfast and lunch as part of their Summer Feeding program.

Nita Floyd, Director of School Nutrition, spoke with the Post-Searchlight about the program. “During the school year, we’re under what we call the National School Lunch Program, and then for the summer, we switch over to a program from USDA called the Seamless Summer Option,” she explained. “It’s basically the same as the school year, except it’s just a separate program.”

The meals are free, and according to Floyd, due to Covid, some of the usual rules have been suspended. “Due to Covid, right now we have a waver to where, the student doesn’t even have to be there to pick it up. In years past, they had to pick it up at that sight and consume it at that sight.”

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Now parents can come to the school or other distribution sites to pick up the food and take it back home to their kids.

Just like with the usual school meal program, these meals are required to provide the same five meal components: a meat/meat alternate, grain, fruit, vegetable and milk, with so many of each sub-group for vegetables.

In addition to waving certain rules due to Covid, the program has struggled with certain supplies, in part due to the supply chain issues brought on by Covid, as well as food shortages currently facing the nation. “What’s been crazy is, it has been mostly your paper goods,” Floyd said. “Like the bowls, because we try to proportion… trays, trays were one of the biggest things.”

As far as food shortages, the county has been able to keep ahead of them, making substitutions or cooking things from scratch in advance, should something not be available. “I’ve watched counties even in other states, on Facebook, just to be excited they got half of their order this week.”

Floyd attributed part of their ability to keep ahead of these issues to the school system’s cooler warehouse. “I feel that we’re very blessed to have that warehouse, for us not to feel the pinch these other places have. I’ve seen some counties where they send out a thing to parents asking them to send lunches for their kids, because they didn’t know if they were going to have the stuff,” she said. “Our students have not had to worry about that.”

The summer meal locations are:
Bainbridge Middle School, Monday-Friday, breakfast from 8:00-8:30, lunch from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm;
Bainbridge High School, same breakfast and lunch times;
United Steel Workers Local 170 in Attapulgus, lunch only, Monday-Friday, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm;
Friendship House of Jesus, lunch only, Monday-Thursday, 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm;
and Bainbridge Public Safety, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The meals program will last until June 30.