ACS serving free dinner to after-school, extracurricular students

The Alabaster City School System will begin offering free dinners to students on Aug. 24. (File)

The Alabaster City School System will begin offering free dinners to students on Aug. 24. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Students who participate in the Alabaster City School System’s after-school programs and extracurricular activities will no longer go home hungry in the evenings, as ACS soon will begin serving free dinners to the students.

Through a grant from the federal At-Risk Program, ACS is planning to begin offering free dinners to students at 5 p.m. each school day beginning on Monday Aug. 24, Student Services Coordinator Dorann Tanner and Child Nutrition Program supervisor Heather McDermott said during an Aug. 17 interview.

The program will be open to all after-school program participants, sports teams, the Thompson High School band, after-school extracurricular activity participants and all students in the community. Meals will be free for all students 18 and younger, and adults older than 18 will be able to participate for $4 per meal, McDermott said.

The program will serve as an extension of the ACS summer feeding program, during which all students younger than 18 could receive free lunches each weekday at the city’s two elementary schools.

“We kind of threw it up in the air as an idea this summer,” McDermott said of the dinner program, noting the Alabama Department of Education notified ACS it had received the grant on Aug. 14. “We decided it was something we wanted to try. I think the need is there. We will start offering it and take it day by day and see if it takes off.”

All dinner meals will be prepared at THS, and will be transported to each city school site’s after-school program. Students and adults who are not in after-school or extracurricular activities will be able to participate in the program on-site at the high school, McDermott said. All meals must be eaten on-site at the school.

All students in the after-school programs will receive a healthy snack at 3:30 p.m., before receiving tutoring and then dinner at 5 p.m., Tanner said.

“As a working parent, sometimes you don’t leave the office until 6 p.m. By the time you pick up your kids, go home and prepare a nutritious meal, the kids may not be eating until 7 p.m. or later,” Tanner said. “With this program, the after-school kids will have their homework done and will be fed by the time they go home. That way, when you do pick them up, you can enjoy family time instead of having to worry about taking care of all that.”