The federal Summer Feeding Program provided more than 20,000 meals and snacks to children in July and August in Jefferson County.
Overseen by the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, this years program was the biggest yet.
Its growing every year, said Mary J. Mathewson, CAPC Family Center project manager. Id like to have a new site at every corner, but it all stems on volunteers.
She said there were upward of 80 volunteers at 19 open feeding sites in the county. Sites are considered open to anyone if the nearest school has at least half of its students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year.
Mrs. Mathewson said the summer program is designed close to school ending and starting dates to bridge a potential hunger gap for that targeted population. Any child, however, is welcome to attend any summer feeding site, she said.
While the overall number increased from last summer, Mrs. Mathewson said, breakfast numbers were down. Only 1,104 were served this summer, compared with 1,865 served last year.
Theres a couple of sites that didnt do breakfast, and some sites decided to do snacks instead, she said. Breakfast is early at 8 or 9 a.m., and its the summer, so kids dont get up as early.
There was a slight decrease in lunch numbers, as 12,212 lunches were served this summer, compared with 12,659 served last summer. Mrs. Mathewson said that decline was a result of CAPCs not hosting a summer Head Start program this year.
Where the agency made up its numbers was with snacks. Mrs. Mathewson said 6,654 snacks were served, an increase of 1,139 from last summer.
That is really good because it means the children are coming back, which is wonderful, she said. Theyre eating and coming back, and thats ultimately most important.
Although the 2012 Summer Feeding Program is over, Mrs. Mathewson said, its not too early to think about the 2013 program. While recognizing the core group of volunteers that helps serve lunches at designated sites each year, more are needed to help feed more hungry children, she said.
If we put it out there, kids will come, but we need someone responsible to help run it, she said.
The agency is always looking for community organizations or groups to host more sites to help reach all children. Desired sites would be in Brownville/Dexter, Mannsville and more in Watertown, Mrs. Mathewson said.
CAPC prepares all meals and delivers them to each site, so it would take only one or two hours a day to facilitate the summer feeding program, she said.
People interested in learning more about the program or volunteering can call Mrs. Mathewson at 782-4900.