- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee officials are looking for more groups to serve summer meals to make sure low-income children don’t go hungry when school is not in session.

During the school year, about 650,000 Tennessee children get free or reduced-priced school lunches, the Chattanooga Times Free Press (https://bit.ly/1HEV9MN) reported. But only a fraction of those youngsters participate in summer meals programs.

Last summer, only 42,000 youngsters participated in Tennessee’s Summer Food Service Program, according to officials from the state Department of Human Services, which runs the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program.

“When school is out, the need to reach more children is great,” said Devin Stone, spokesman for the state human services agency

That’s why the agency is looking for more groups to provide free meals during the summer. The groups can include schools, private nonprofit organizations, government entities and nonprofit residential camps.

Olivet Baptist Church has agreed to participate. So has the city of Chattanooga, which will launch an “Eat and Greet” pilot program in which youths age 18 and under can get free breakfast and lunch at 15 of the city’s Youth and Family Development Centers. The meals - including one hot meal a week - will be prepared in the kitchen at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and then will be delivered to the centers, said Enora “Nori” Moss, spokeswoman for the city’s Youth and Family Development department.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of work that we’re happy to do,” Moss said.

The city got a $30,000 Out-of-School-Time grant from the National League of Cities to help fund the pilot program.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com


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