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News Community Free lunches offered to children

Macon Program for Progress, (MPP) a non-profit organization that provides child care for low income families, has partnered with the Summer Food Service Program to hand out free lunches to school-aged children during the summer months.

The Summer Food Service Program is a federally-fund program to make nutritious meals available to children in lower income households during the summer months. The program was begun in 1968, however, this is the first year that Macon County has been involved.

Susie McCoy at MPP said that Macon County is not considered a low wealth county, mainly because of the tax base, but, the food program is separate from that and it is lower than average. “This program was really thrown together this year.” McCoy said. “I saw an article about it in the Smoky Mountain News and the auditor told me about it, and that is how it got started here. We had very little time from the time that we were approved for the program until it actually began to get volunteers and do training and spread the word.”

Crystal Nix, MPP nutritionist, said that “We already had a kitchen that wasn’t being used and there were staff that were being sent home during the summer months. So we had the facilities and the manpower to make this program happen.” MPP made the original contract for 180 lunches per day. They have since had to change that. “It changes daily,” Nix said. “One day last week we had 225 lunches.”

McCoy concedes that it is a small beginning, and there is a greater need to be met in Macon County. They are already planning for next year, hoping to expand the program. McCoy said she wants to organize a community meeting this fall to discuss the possibility of getting more sites to hand out lunches and to recruit more volunteers. Nix said that “we are flying by the seat of our pants this year but next year we will have more time to plan it better and have a little more experience ... Hopefully it will continue to grow as the summer goes along.”

Lunches are served at two locations and children 18 and under can attend. MPP’s New Horizons I Building, 350 Orchard Drive, from 12:30-1:30 and at the Franklin High School, 100 Panther Drive, at the picnic tables located behind the main office, from 12:15 to 1:15. There is no registration or fees.

For more information, contact Susie McCoy at (828)524-4471 ext. 318 or Crystal Nix at (828)524-4471 ext. 322.


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