LONGVIEW: Summer meal programs keep children fed in East Texas

IN THE LONGVIEW NEWS-JOURNAL:

About 160 Longview children of all ages chowed down on cheeseburgers and hot dogs at South Ward Elementary School on Wednesday as part of Longview ISD's summer meals program.

Several East Texas schools, as well as charitable organizations, have summer programs set up to keep children fed during the months they aren't in school receiving breakfast and lunch.

"During the school year, kids get to eat breakfast and lunch, and get healthy meals," South Ward Elementary School Principal Carl Briley said. "But during the summer, some of the kids may not have the opportunity to continue having that healthy breakfast and lunch. This program is a win-win for everyone, and the parents really like it."

Longview ISD is serving about 2,000 meals a day districtwide, but officials said the largest feeding location is Ware Elementary School, serving about 400 students.

"The students from the Boys & Girls Club walk across the street at lunchtime and eat at Ware," Briley said.

The East Texas Food Bank also is serving meals at Hallsville's Boys & Girls Club as well as Ingram and Rollins parks, Newgate Mission and Amberwood Place in Longview.

Buckner Children and Family Services is switching its plan up a little this year with a snack program instead of a meal program.

Instead of partnering with East Texas Food Bank like it did in past years, Buckner teamed up with about 200 volunteers from Longview who donated the snacks and are donating their time at the distribution centers.

The program is prepared to serve about 50 students a day.

Area nursing school students also will be on hand to discuss healthy meal options, and children are invited to participate in a Vacation Bible School-type activity while enjoying their snack, Buckner spokeswoman Lauri Ann Hanson said Wednesday.

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