USDA, state praise Alabaster summer feeding program
Published 2:55 pm Friday, May 13, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – The cafeteria in Alabaster’s Meadow View Elementary School was filled with cheerleaders, applause from students and even the mascot and head coach from a university football team on May 13. But the focus of the day wasn’t on sports.
As Samford University head football coach Chris Hatcher kicked a yellow football held by Samford mascot Spike the Bulldog – To a chorus of cheers from the hundreds of MVES students gathered for the event – It served as the official start to the summer feeding programs across the state.
“If you put good things in your body and stay away from the bad things, your body is going to take care of you,” Hatcher told the kids. “There are a lot of important people here today. They are here to help you be as successful as you can be, but you’re the one who has to do it.”
In addition to Hatcher and Spike, officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Alabama Department of Education and Alabaster City Schools gathered at MVES during the event to celebrate ways the state is working to ensure students have access to meals even during the summer.
Last year, ACS launched its summer feeding program at MVES with funds from a federal grant. The program allows children to eat breakfast and lunch for free at designated sites in the city each weekday, and allows adults to eat for a small fee.
This summer, ACS is expanding the program to 10 sites throughout the city.
“The additional sites you are taking this program to this summer, that is innovation at its best,” said Alabama acting Superintendent of Education Dr. Phillip Cleveland. “These are the things that truly make a difference.”
Alabama Child Nutrition Programs Coordinator June Barrett said the May 13 kickoff was part of a campaign to ensure food-insecure students and families across the state know about programs they can take advantage of throughout the year.
Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers praised the system’s Child Nutrition Program staff for increasing school lunch participation, launching an evening meal program and for expanding the summer feeding program this year.
“I am proud of that, and I am proud of our people for making that happen,” Vickers said. “What we are doing, other school systems are following.”