TCS expands summer feeding program
Feeding children during the summertime has become a signature of Thomasville City Schools.
Over the past few years, the efforts of the child nutrition staff has gained national attention for venturing out into Chair City neighborhoods and feeding hungry children who often are waiting for them to arrive every day.
Those same children can expect a weekend visit this year as TCS is expanding its federally funded Summer Food Service program to Saturdays.
“We're real excited about that,” said Brenda Watford, TCS child nutrition director. “We knew that the children would be hungry even on the weekends and a lot of the churches feed the community on Sunday so we thought we would do it on Saturday.”
TCS four years ago expanded its summer feeding program by delivering food directly to children via bus routes scattered across the city. Since the expansion, the number of children receiving food doubled from approximately 600 to more than 1,300 a day. Buses during the week arrive to stops where dozens of children wait patiently for a meal.
TCS now has four buses stopping at 10 different sites along each route. Free lunch also is served to children under 18 at Thomasville High School and Thomasville Primary School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of the program.
“We've went from about 1,000 a day to about 1,300 to 1,400,” Watford said. “Parents called and said they didn't have the gas to bring the kids to the school and if there was something we could do. We're just glad we're able to do it. We love feeding those children.”
Adding Saturday proved to be an easy choice for the child nutrition staff.
“We talked to our employees and they were all excited,” said Watford. “They all agreed with me that we know the children are hungry on the weekends, and nobody complained, so it's wonderful. We got the schedules worked out and we're ready to go deliver.”
Community donations and a $3,000 grant helped TCS purchase a new van for the program that will be used to deliver food to an area near Doak Park this year.
“I think it's great we're going to six days a week,” Debbie Wilson, child nutrition administrative assistant, said. “Brenda is really dedicated to it, she really is. I've never seen a person more committed to taking care of the kids when it comes to eating.”
The summer feeding program runs from June 16 to August 16, minus July 4 and 5 for the Independence Day holiday.
For more information, call Watford at 474-4219.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.