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Annual federal summer feeding program begins in north country

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Free and reduced-price lunches have ended with the school year, but children will not go hungry this summer.

In fact, they may get multiple breakfasts or lunches each day of the federal Summer Feeding Program from different sites.

“It’s not common, but it’s for people to know it can happen,” said Mary J. Mathewson, family center project manager for the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County. “It’s hard to keep track of that. We keep records in numbers but not in numbers served to. You’re not locked in to the one where you live.”

CAPC oversees the federal program in Jefferson County.

Mrs. Mathewson said all meals must be consumed on site; no food may be taken home or outside of the site.

The Summer Feeding Program is for any schoolchild 18 and younger, or 21 and younger if the person is disabled.

A typical breakfast, Mrs. Mathewson said, consists of cereal, milk and juice, while lunch consists of milk, fruit, a vegetable and a sandwich. A snack could be cheese and crackers, pepperoni and cheese or graham crackers.

Last year, more than 20,000 meals and snacks were served in Jefferson County. Mrs. Mathewson said she expects that number to increase because more sites have been added.

The program’s kickoff was held Wednesday at the Adirondack Creek Housing Community, Fort Drum. Many sites already have begun serving meals and snacks, or a combination thereof, while others don’t start for another week or two.

The same goes for the federal Summer Feeding Program in St. Lawrence County. To attract more children to the program in Gouverneur, breakfast will be served an hour longer than last year’s one-hour time slot, from 7:15 to 9:15 a.m. weekdays from Thursday to Aug. 17 in the cafeteria of the middle/high school, 133 E. Barney St.. Lunches will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. weekdays in the cafeteria.

Meals there, however, include multiple hot options such as pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Breakfast offerings include bagels, pancakes, French toast and cereal, according to Christine J. Bristol, the district’s lunch manager.

At Edwards-Knox Central School, Russell, cook manager Kathleen F. Whitmarsh said many children served by the program attend either summer school or the community’s summer recreation program. Upwards of 120 meals are served daily in July and August. Adults may eat with their children for $2.25 for breakfast and $3.80 for lunch.

Mrs. Whitmarsh said the program is valuable in keeping youngsters nourished while they’re on break from school.

“You’re feeding kids that in the summertime don’t always get a hot meal,” she said.

Johnson Newspapers writer Susan Mende contributed to this report.

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