Summer Feeding Program

Posted on 06/27/2018
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It’s a hot, steamy first day of summer at Ritchie Park. Skies are overcast, yet the air practically drips with humidity and breeze options range from little to none.

But it’s the noon hour, and children are arriving at the park on a Thursday to take advantage of a summer food program hosted by Nacogdoches ISD’s Student Nutrition Department.

Ritchie Park, located in the neighborhood behind NISD’s Brooks-Quinn-Jones Elementary School, is one of 28 sites where the district’s summer food program provides meals at breakfast and lunch.

Nacogdoches Mayor Shelley Brophy read a proclamation during a council meeting on June 19, recognizing the summer food service program and declaring the city a “healthy summer meals for kids community.”

This is the 26th year NISD has offered a summer food program. The first was held at a single location – Mike Moses Middle School. Now, roughly 1,000 children are fed breakfast and lunch in Nacogdoches. Daily.

“These are children that, many times during the course of the week, may have to go without complete nutritious meals,” said Robin Thacker, NISD’s Director of Student. “That’s where we can help.”

Thacker said any child can come to a location and participate in the food program.

Many of the sites at city parks or in neighborhoods started up the week of June 18 and will remain open through Aug. 3, Monday through Friday. Locations at churches are open for a week at a time.

In addition to parks and neighborhoods, food programs are offered at NISD’s Martin Center (302 Hughes St.), McMichael Middle School (through June 28), Brooks-Quinn-Jones Elementary (through Aug. 3), Nacogdoches High School (through June 29), Emeline Carpenter Elementary (through July 18) and Nettie Marshall Academy of Dual Language (through July 26).

Rotary Club of Nacogdoches partners with NISD’s summer food program and has its mobile library appear daily at some of the sites.

“It’s one of our most successful projects,” said club member Patrick Rovers, who was at Ritchie Park last week with another club member Ed Pool, who had parked the trailer containing the library under a shade tree.

The mobile program gets books to around 250 children each week, Pool said, something that wouldn’t be possible without partnering with the summer food program.

The mobile library is at Boys & Girls Club on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the summer, Pool said. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the library rotates among Pioneer, Ritchie Street, Temple and Pine Forest Mobile Home parks.

Thacker praised the work of Rotary Club as well as other key partners, including the Boys & Girls Club along with area churches and Love Inc., a Christian organization dedicated to helping the needy in Nacogdoches.

The food program goes on longer at the Boys & Girls Club than other sites, starting a week earlier and lasting until Aug. 10, about two weeks before classes begin for the new school year.

The city is also an essential partner, Thacker said. The food program is promoted in mail-outs for city water bills and a number of food locations are located at city parks.

NISD’s summer food program received two Best Practice awards from the Texas Department of Agriculture for Innovative Partnerships and Site Enrichments” and “Program Management and Outreach.”

Student nutrition staffers play a vital role in the programs’ success, Thacker said. “We have dedicated employees who choose to work during summer,” she said.

The extended schedule also helps out some of Thacker’s employees, who might be forced to look elsewhere for summer work if not for the food program.

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