13 sites of­fer free meals to county kids

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— As sum­mer gets into full swing, more than a dozen places through­out the county will of­fer free meals to lo­cal kids and teenagers for the next sev­eral weeks.

Kids un­der age 18 can get free break­fast and lunch at any of the 13 sites scat­tered around Elk­ton, Per­ryville and North East. Adults can also eat at these lo­ca­tions but must pay $3.50, said Ge­of­frey Sudz­ina, Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools as­sis­tant in Food & Nu­tri­tion Ser­vices.

Sev­eral of these sites started serv­ing free meals ear­lier this month while oth­ers will be­gin do­ing so on Wed­nes­day. All the meals are made out of the Elk­ton High School and North East Mid­dle School kitchens, and Sudz­ina es­ti­mates that in to­tal, the two lo­ca­tions make be­tween 400 and 500 meals a day.

Roughly 45 per­cent of CCPS stu­dents qual­ify for free and re­duced meals (FARM) and the sum­mer pro­gram pro­vides these stu­dents with the chance to get a nu­tri­tious meal even when school is out, Sudz­ina said.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that ev­ery­one get a healthy meal,” he said. “It’s a great pro­gram.”

The Ce­cil County pro­gram is part of the fed­er­ally-funded and state-ad­min­is­tered Sum­mer Food Ser­vice Pro­gram (SFSP), which is run by the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture. In 2015, 66,000 sites through­out the coun­try served more than 190 mil­lion meals, ac­cord­ing to the USDA.

In Ce­cil County, hot lunches, which in­clude chicken patty sand­wiches, pizza, grilled cheese and ham­burg­ers, are of­fered Mon­day through Thurs­day. On Fri­days, a cold lunch of var­i­ous

CE­CIL COUNTY

sand­wiches is of­fered. All those meals come with ap­ple sauce, raisins, milk and a side of veg­eta­bles or fruit.

For break­fast, kids get a choice of Golden Gra­hams or Cin­na­mon Toast Crunch plus juice, an­i­mal crack­ers and milk.

Many of the sites that serve meals in Ce­cil County are long­time par­tic­i­pants in the pro­gram. Sudz­ina said he’s es­pe­cially ap­pre­cia­tive of the com­mu­nity sites that have to trans­port the meals and un­dergo train­ing to par­tic­i­pate.

“It’s re­ally a com­mu­nity ef­fort to feed these kids,” he said.

While the pro­gram does re­ceive walk-ins, many of the kids who eat the meals are al­ready at the sites to par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties such as Boys & Girls Clubs or AC­TI­VATE sum­mer camps, Sudz­ina added.

At North East Mid­dle School, the ma­jor­ity of the par­tic­i­pants are Boys & Girls Clubs of Ce­cil County campers who come over from the club­house lo­cated next door.

While North East Mid­dle is one of the pro­gram’s more heav­ily used sites, Sudz­ina said

“I re­ally wish more peo­ple would use this pro­gram,” he said.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Boys & Girls Club staffers pass out free lunches to stu­dents at North East Mid­dle School on Tues­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Boys & Girls Club campers line up for a free pizza lunch at North East Mid­dle School on Tues­day.

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