Summer feeding programs serve thousands of area children

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- School may be out for the summer, but students are hungry year-round. Summer feeding programs are in full swing. 

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee said they’ve served 2,000 children this summer as part of their food service program.

Meanwhile, the Johnson City School District says they fed nearly 1,000 kids per day in June, and are still serving hundreds this July without charge. Two-thirds of those students also receive breakfast.

The district is responsible for providing lunch for various summer schools, camps, and programs like Educare.

“It’s hard keeping up with 20 different sites and 20 different schedules,” said Hannah Upchurch, assistant director of Food Services for the Johnson City School District. “And you know, you may be having the pavement redone at the entrance to a kitchen or an unexpected field trip and they need bag lunches.”

But even more flexibility has been needed this year, as the district started a new open site program at North Side Elementary. This means pre-registration is not required and any child from the community can come and get free lunch.

“We’re here Tuesday through Thursday every week,” Upchurch said. “So any kid from anywhere around here under 18 can come and get a great meal.”

This new program is in partnership with the Summer Reading Program, where parents and their kids are encouraged to come by for library time and lunch.

“We see some children are not able to have lunch or breakfast,” said Jennifer King, a teacher at North Side. ”This gives them an opportunity to come to the school and eat, and get that educational piece as well that helps to take care of their needs.”

The open site summer reading and lunch program ends next week, but in coming years, Food Services hope it will continue to grow and feed more children in need.

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