Henry County’s Seamless Summer gives kids free meals

For thousands of Henry County children, school may be out but meals are still in.

“Henry County Schools will once again be providing summer meals for students all across the county in 2017,” system spokesman J.D. Hardin said in a statement. “Meals are free to children up to 18 years of age and individuals with special needs up to 21 years of age.”

Community locations will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to noon weekdays through July 21, except for the holiday week of July 3 to 7.

There is no need to sign up; just show up.

The locations are:

– Ansley Park of Stockbridge, 555 Davis Road, Stockbridge.

– McBrayer Park at the splash pad, 10 Central Ave., Hampton.

– Light of the World Christian Tabernacle, 5883 Ga 155 North, Stockbridge.

– Southwinds Point Apartments, 50 Evergreen Way, Stockbridge.

– McDonough Housing Authority, 345 Simpson St., McDonough, Monday through Thursday only.

– Clover Ranch Manufactured Homes, 100 Oxford Circle, Hampton, will serve snacks from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

The system’s Seamless Summer Feeding Program’s partners, Hardin said, are the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia School Nutrition Program.

Last year, the Henry County program had 10 locations.

This year, 15 more sites were added.

Breakfast and lunch were served at 19 schools, in addition to the six community locations, through June 16.

Hardin said the expansion made it easier “for those students looking for a nutritious meal during the summer months.”

State-level officials agree that access to nutrition is important.

The state agency Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning administers federal nutrition programs and through its Summer Food Service Program, also with the USDA, provides millions of free meals statewide.

Its commissioner, Amy Jacobs, said summer meals help children progress in their development.

“Through GA DECAL’s SFSP, children 18 and younger have access to free, healthy meals so that they can continue to learn, play and grow when school is not in session,” she said in a statement.

Agency nutrition services director, Falita Flowers, said the program is “a critical summer resource,” relieving stress for families under economic constraints.

“During the summer, children who receive free and reduced-price meals no longer have that resource available to them,” she said in a statement. “This program helps fill the gap.”

According to the USDA website, this summer it plans to serve more than 200 million free summer meals to children 18 years and under at approved Summer Food Service Program sites.

Parents looking for other free summer meal sites can text FOODGA to 877877 or dial the USDA hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479).

For year-round locations, visit the Food Finder website, founded by Georgia resident Jack Griffin, at https://foodfinder.us.

Some of those locations include Helping in His Name Ministries and Samaritans Together of Henry County, both in Stockbridge.

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