Leanne Smith, M Live, June 26, 2012
In Jackson this summer, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
You just have to be 18 years old or younger to get it.
Jackson Public Schools is again offering its summer nutrition program, which provides free breakfast and lunch to all children at several locations throughout the city. Children do not have to live in Jackson or attend JPS to participate.
“It’s open to all,” said Brandt Russell, JPS food service director. “We just hope families will take advantage of this program. It will help stretch food dollars and there are a bunch of sites, so it’s convenient, too.”
A quick lunch Monday at the Frost Elementary School site was a good stop for Lisa Warner and her 5-year-old daughter Annabelle, who were out running errands.
“Annabelle said she was hungry, and I said I know just where we can go,” Warner said. “They give the kids a good selection of food, and it’s a good cost-saving for us. Every little bit helps.”
The program does not cost the district money. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is providing about $190,000 for it this year.
Last year, Russell estimated 1,389 breakfasts and lunches were served daily. This year, he hopes to serve 2,000 meals a day.
About 72 percent of JPS students receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year, Russell said. The summer program is especially important to them, he said.
“They rely on breakfast and lunch every day at school and then summer comes,” Russell said. “This is a way to make sure those meals continue.”