TCS extends feeding program

Lunch will be provided starting in 2014-2015
Jun. 19, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

Thomasville City Schools’ nationally-recognized feeding program continues to expand its services.
The 2014-2015 school year will mark the first time lunch will be available to all TCS students without cost. Previously, the program provided only breakfast.
Brenda Watford, TCS child nutrition director, was able to procure funding through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Community Eligibility Provision – courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service – which will allow all TCS students to eat both breakfast and lunch for free.
“About 91 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch,” said Crystal Hodges, chairperson of the TCS school board. “Some of those still cannot afford to pay the 40 cent a day. [Watford] took it upon herself to oversee this feeding program. She cares so much. She’s filled out all the forms and done what it takes to get our kids free lunch.”
The child nutrition program, which was featured in August 2011 on the CBS evening news, provides balanced breakfasts and lunches for about 1,300 children who attend Thomasville City Schools through the summer. In May, the federally-funded program expanded its services to include weekend visits to those who need food throughout the summer.
Since bolstering the program four years ago by delivering food directly to children by way of bus routes throughout the city, the number of children receiving assistance doubled from around 600 to more than 1,300 per day. As she makes her route, Watford finds young people standing at their stops waiting patiently for their meal.
She says the additional funding through the school year will help grow the number of children she can reach.
“Two months before we found out we’d receive it for next year, there was a student at the high school who doesn’t qualify for reduced lunch,” Watford said. “He came into the cafeteria and my manager gave him some breakfast bars and told him to be sure and come back to eat with us for lunch.
“He said, ‘I’d love to if I could afford it. My mom and dad don’t qualify.’ Sure enough, we later saw him sharing lunch with another student. We’re excited to extend this program. It’s really going to help a lot of people.”
TCS runs four buses which stop along 10 different sites on each route. Free lunches are served to children under 18 through the summer program at Thomasville High School and Thomasville Primary School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program runs from June 16 to Aug. 16, with the only exception being July 4 and July 5, as staff observe the Independence Day holiday.
For more information, contact Watford at 474-4219.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 847-9911, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.