Athens-area public schools along with the Georgia Department of Early Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foodbank of Northeast Georgia, Action Ministries and the Athens Housing Authority have combined forces to offer free lunches this summer to children and adolescence 18-years-old and younger.
According to an article by the Athens Banner-Herald, the Athens Housing Authority runs the largest summer lunch program in the area. Last year AHA workers and volunteers distributed 46,892 lunches. This year, the total number served is projected to exceed 50,000 at 32 sites such as Memorial Park, the Athens YMCA, Thomas Lay Park and the Boys & Girls Club.
“The housing authority has operated its summer lunch program since 1990, regularly expanding it,” the article reads. “This year, the authority added several sites in Barrow County and now for the first time is delivering meals in Oglethorpe County, at the Oglethorpe County Public Library.”
Many local lunch programs offer meals that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, which are generally funded largely by the USDA.
“The Clarke County School District offers no-charge lunches at Gaines Elementary School and Clarke Middle School, and operates mobile routes with stops at Pinewood Apartments, Tallassee Club Villas and six other community sites; parents can also purchase lunches for $3.50,” the ABH article reads.
The public school system in Jackson County also distributes free lunches in parts of that county and the Madison County School District has several lunch distribution sites. Action Ministries is working with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia to offer sites to serve free lunches on weekdays.
“Most operate only on weekdays, but the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and Action Ministries also distribute food for kids to take home over the weekends to help feed themselves and their families,” according to the ABH. “The USDA program is aimed at areas where at least half the children qualify for free or reduced lunch prices during the regular school years, but the meals themselves are available to any child, regardless of family income.”
The ABH reports that summer lunch programs across the state distributed about 5.7 million meals and snacks at 1,715 sites across the state last summer, a 24 percent increase over 2014.
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