Summer meal program provided children with healthly lunches
By Tatila Brock
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A small boy ran up to the parked yellow-school bus and when he reached the open door he stretched out his arms to receive one of the boxed lunches.
The Food and Nutrition Services of Clay County took on a challenge recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture and this summer, for the first time, the service added the Summer Feeding Mobile Bus to its annual Summer Feeding Program.
"The USDA really encourages the mobile bus because they want to see districts go out into the community," said Susan Glover, the director of Food and Nutrition Services for Clay County Schools. from page 1
This summer the bus, driven by Joann Nickel, leaves Charles E. Bennett Elementary cafeteria with a blue cooler and a few pails filled with backup lunches and heads about a half a mile to the Vera Francis Hall Park.
"One of my concerns was to get out there in the bus and not have enough food," said Glover who rode on the bus the first week. "I thought ‘What can be my back up plan?’ because I wanted to be able to provide them with a meal, so we used the meal breaks as a backup.
The meal breaks are shelf stable, which makes them a good option for a backup.
In between 30 to 45 children, come to the park to eat lunch each day, said Sue Lucus, who helps hand out the meals and is a cafeteria manager at Fleming Island Elementary. The bus served the lunches from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this summer and the program ended July 31.
"When we pull into the park you see the kids running up to the bus," Lucus said. "It is nice to be able to feed all those babies."
Free lunches are passed out to anyone 18 and younger and adults can buy a lunch for $1.50. This is the same policy the six summer feeding services in different locations throughout Clay County have.
"I come every day," said Shannon Smith, a Green Cove Springs resident and mother of three. "The kids get to have a solid meal and I don’t have to cook so my house stays clean."
The bus also provides nutritious lunch to children who wouldn’t have one if the bus didn’t go to the park, said Nickel, the bus driver.
Handing out meals on the Summer Feeding Mobile Bus will be the last thing Lucus – a 28-year food services veteran – will do before she retires this month.
"We are here to do something and mine was to feed a child," Lucus said.
"When we pull into the park you see the kids running up to the bus. It is nice to be able to feed all those babies."
– Sue Lucus, volunteer
Joann Nickel hands children cartons of milk to go with their lunch at Vera Francis Hall Park, off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., on July 29. Nickel drove the Summer Feeding Mobile Bus, which is a new program offered by Clay County School’s Food and Nutrition Services.