SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- School districts have started preparing for Summer Food Programs to feed children who rely on school meals.
Most summer food programs are funded by the US Department of Agriculture and only offer on-site meals for children under the age of 18, but federal rules have changed.
The USDA has now made it possible for rural areas to apply for a waiver that would allow school districts to serve on-site or pick up meals for families.
Amber Anderson, Sullivan County School Coordinator said they are one of the areas that was approved for the waiver and will be offering pick up meals off campus.
“We got USDA approval for two non-congregate and rural serving sites,” said Anderson. “At those sites, we will be doing two days of meal pick ups eligible for any student or child, 18 years and under, and they’ll get multiple days worth of meals on each of those.”
Anderson said the waiver makes it easier to provide meals to students and children.
“Monday pick ups, they’ll get three days worth of meals,” said Anderson. “And on Thursday pick ups they’ll get four days, so if a child comes to both days, they’ll get seven days worth of meals.”
Sullivan County schools will provide meals to children under the age of 18 until June 23. Second Harvest Food Bank also offers a summer food program separate from the school districts.
Edward Breese, Community Relations Manager at Second Harvest Food bank said that the summer food program is important and needed in the community.
“We know that in northeast Tennessee, there’s about 13% of the population who are children who face food hunger, insecurity,” said Breese. “Last year, through the summer, feeding program, we were actually able to reach out and help a thousand children last summer.”
Second Harvest Food Bank has volunteers that help pack food for the children.
“One of the ways that we like to step in and help out in the community is we have AmeriCorps workers and volunteers who travel out to the eight counties that we serve,” said Breese.
If you are looking for a summer food program location near you, the USDA has a meals for kids site finder.