By MARY RAINWATER
Since school is out, many area children will be looking for places they can meet their friends, have fun and eat healthy meals.
The East Texas Food Bank and Westwood Independent School District’s Food Service department have partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide children in the community with free nutritious meals through the Summer Food Program.
“The East Texas Food Bank wants to ensure that the break from the classroom during the summer does not mean a break from what may be the most important source of nutritious meals — school breakfast and lunch programs,” East Texas Food Bank executive director Dennis Cullinane said. “Our Summer Food Program fills that gap and works to ensure that our kids receive the food they need during their summer break and we try to keep it fun at the same time.”
This is the first year Westwood ISD has provided the opportunity to feed children during the summer months.
“Three locations have given their permission to serve meals on their property,” Westwood ISD Food Service Director Gayle Boynton said. “We are in hopes that these sites are central enough to allow all children, whether they reside at the sites or not, to have access to these lunch meals.”
WISD will be offering the summer food service now through June 13 at the following locations and times:
• 11 to 11:20 a.m. at the Westwood High School campus cafeteria, 1820 Panther Blvd.
• 11:15 to 11:35 a.m. at Cedarvale Mobile Home Park, 2131 West Point Tap Rd.
• 11:45 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. at Hilltop Mobile Home Park, 4020 W. Oak St.
• 12:15 to 12:35 p.m. at Woodside Village Apartment Complex, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
East Texas Food Bank locations and times include:
• 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. (breakfast) and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch) weekdays from June 5-29 at Palestine Middle School, 233 Ben Milam.
• 8 to 9 a.m. (breakfast) and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch) weekdays from July 5 to Aug. 24 at the Palestine YMCA, 5500 N. Loop 256.
• 8 to 9:30 a.m. (breakfast) and noon to 1 p.m. (lunch) weekdays from June 5 to Aug. 24 at Washington Elementary School, 1020 Hamlett St.
The free meals help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow throughout the summer months.
During the school year, nutritious meals are available through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Both those programs end when school ends for the summer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Program helps fill the hunger gap. The Summer Food Program is the single largest federal resource available for local sponsors who want to ensure that children do not need to go hungry this summer.
The Summer Food Program provides nutritious meals free to all children ages 1 to 18 at participating feeding sites. Meals and snacks also are available to persons with disabilities, over age 18, who participate in school programs for people who are mentally or physically disabled. To participate, children just need to show up. There is no need to register and no proof of age or income is required.
“We invite all children to come eat lunch with their friends during the summer months,” Boynton said. “Westwood ISD is looking forward to serving children from our community.”
For more information about the ETFB program, dial 2-1-1 or visit www.easttexasfoodbank.org/summer food. For more information about WISD’s program, call 903-723-0952.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com