Free breakfast, lunches for area children

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Numerous children throughout Henry County eat free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch at their respective schools because they qualify under federal income guidelines.

But summer break, anticipated with glee by nearly every student, means a nine-week break from those meals. Families have to make up the difference themselves on limited incomes.

To bridge that gap somewhat, several organizations are providing meals for young people at locations all over the county.

The Henry County School System’s Nutrition Department, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Education, is hosting a Summer Meals program weekdays at 8 a.m. for breakfast and 11:30 a.m. for lunch. The program runs through July 17 at some locations and July 24 at others.

Locations serving meals under this initiative include Hampton Elementary School, Henry County High School, Oakland Elementary, Light of the World Christian Tabernacle, Shiloh Baptist Church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, Magnolia Park, Memorial Park and Rufus Stewart Park.

“Summer can be a time of bad eating habits and void of routine for students,” said Judy Hogg, the school system’s nutrition director. “Our program gives Henry County children the chance at a regular, nutritious meal during a time when such food and schedules can be hit or miss.”

There is no requirement to be met to take part in the program. More information can be obtained by calling the Nutrition Department at 770-914-0815.

Henry County’s libraries are also feeding young people through the Summer Food Service program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services.

All five branches - Fairview, Hampton (Fortson), Locust Grove, McDonough and Stockbridge (Cochran) - serve free cold lunches from 1-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday (the libraries are closed every Friday).

Participation has been steady as the program wrapped up its second week, according to a spokesperson, and officials expect interest and participation to increase.

All children under 18 are eligible, and there is no cost or enrollment requirement.

Other facilities such as churches and daycare centers are also offering this service. Tabernacle Family Worship Center is participating in the state DOE initiative, providing meals along with a low-cost summer camp program. Children under 18 can come by for breakfast (8-9 a.m.) or lunch (11 a.m.-noon). The church has also sent representatives out into nearby neighborhoods with food bags.