Summer Program Brings Nutritional Meals to Children

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

This summer, the Salvation Army Temple Corps is committed to feeding children nutritious meals. To carry out this goal, this corps along with other Salvation Army corps and communities throughout Missouri are participating in the Summer Food Service Program.

The Temple Corps opened the program to children of their community, and currently children of the Temple Corps Day Camp are taking advantage of the program’s meals. The program started June 4 and will end Aug. 10.

The purpose of the Summer Food Service Program is to provide meals to underprivileged children outside of school, hence why the program takes place during the summer months. The program begins after school is dismissed for the summer and ends just before school begins again in the fall.

“They finish the program on a Friday, and go back to school that Monday,” explains Laura Grainger, Temple Corps Program Director.

The Summer Food Service Program stands out because it allows sites to not only serve meals, but to serve healthy meals to children. The Temple Corps created two week’s worth of menus, and the Missouri Department of Health verified the food choice’s healthy qualities with their approval.

The menus will be rotated throughout the summer to make sure children receive an assortment of healthy foods. The program provides breakfast and lunch, and every meal consists of a grain, fruit or vegetable, and milk.

One of the most respectable rules of the program is that the children must be given everything on the menu at each meal. This ensures that a child is not given a meal lacking the important elements, because those nutritional elements are the main reason for the program.

At the Temple Corps, if a child does not wish to eat part of his or her meal, they can choose to put that item on the “share table.” This means a different child who might want an extra portion could pick it up from this table for themselves. Such an efficient system makes sure no valued, nutritional food is wasted.

This is the first summer the Temple Corps is acting both as a sponsor and a food service site for the program. In previous years, the Temple Corps has asked vendors to provide their meals, but this year they are taking on the challenge of cooking their own meals for their site.

The Temple Corps gets supplies from U.S. Foods, and then the corps’s cook whips up the meals for the children. By using their own cook, this corps now has the opportunity to serve hot meals. There had been complaints in previous years of the food being repetitive and bland, but this year children enjoy the likes of hot fish sticks or macaroni and cheese!

It was quite a process to become both a site and a sponsor for the program, but the Temple Corps excels as both. To qualify as an adequate site for the program, the Missouri Department of Health had to examine the site’s school data and verify that they have at least 50 percent of their children are eligible for free lunch, and more than 80 percent of children at Temple Corps are eligible. Having such a large population of underprivileged children meant that the Temple Corps was eager to get the ball rolling and gain more outreach to the community.

The Temple Corps had to undergo an inspection by the Missouri Department of Health to make sure their site was qualified to be a sponsor. Once approved, participants had to partake in an orientation in order to learn the responsibilities of being a sponsored site.

The Missouri Department of Health will continue to inspect the Temple Corps’s program throughout the summer to make sure their site is continuing to uphold the healthy expectations.

Sure, distributing food can be a simple task. However, Grainger wanted to emphasize that providing the children with nutritional meals is what really sets them on the right track to leading healthier lives.

“It’s a really good program, especially with the nutritional component,” she says. “It’s so easy to feed people!”

The children of the day camp already are on the right path, as they pray before every meal and then excitedly munch on their hot dogs and watermelon.

Day camp provides education and quality meals to children during the summer, when they would otherwise be lost in the absence of school. The Temple Corps is happy to make sure children are not neglected without the conveniences of school, and their summer of service is already off to a great start.

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