CCISD feeding record number of children this summer
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Since June 9, children have been showing up for breakfast and lunch at six locations in Copperas Cove, thanks to the efforts of the Copperas Cove Independent School District's Child Nutrition Program.
“So far (in the first nine days of the program), we've already served 2,827 breakfasts, and for lunches we've already served 5,481,” said Melissa Bryan, CCISD's director of child nutrition.
During June, July and August 2014, the district served a total of 2,130 free breakfasts and 13,352 lunches. Bryan expects that by July 1, the district will have surpassed the total number of summer meals served for 2014.
Getting the word out about the program is the main reason Bryan believes the numbers are up this year.
“Wendy (Sledd)'s been instrumental in helping saturate the market. We also started sending flyers home to parents in May,” Bryan said. “Also, parents saw it last year and we talked about it, that we're going to do it again. The community talks with each other.”
The district gets reimbursed by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture for every meal served by what's called the “seamless summer feeding program.”
Bryan said any school district with more than 50 percent of students being eligible for free or reduced meals must provide a summer feeding program.
“We're at 53 percent, almost 54, so we're mandated to offer one anyway, but we want to reach as many as we can,” Bryan said.
Those in the community who want to have breakfast or lunch can just show up at mealtime and anyone age 18 or under will be served a meal for free, even infants.
“As as long as that baby can chew food, they can bring that baby in here,” Bryan said, giving an example. “If that baby is six months old and can chew food, they can come through.”
The free meal setup is ideal for those who might have family visiting on vacation, such as cousins or grandkids. Bryan said children don't have to be a city resident or a CCISD student to have a free meal. Also, diners aren't required to fill out any paperwork.
Another benefit of the program, besides providing free meals for kids under 18, is that the district gets to clear its pantries in preparation for next school year.
“We try to take all our inventory from all our campuses that we have at the end of the school year, and that's what we build our (summer) menus on,” Bryan said. “We are utilizing everything so we don't have products sitting there all summer, and that way when we get ready to start school, we order new product.”
Brittani Pitts, CCISD's summer lunch program coordinator, visits each campus and feeding location daily, to ensure every kitchen is on target with its products for the daily menus.
Pitts has been with CCISD for five years and recently received her associate's degree in culinary arts, and during the regular school year, manages Copperas Cove Junior High's cafeteria.
“I love my job,” she said. For the summer feeding program, Pitts said during her campus visits, she makes sure the staff are serving what's on the menu, taking proper meal counts, and that all the schools have everything they need for preparing meals.
The menu format is similar to the school year's menu, Bryan said.
“We have to meet the same meal requirements that we do during the school year, as far a components and calories.”
When each child reaches the end of the lunch line, a cafeteria worker checks their tray to make sure they have the required minimum three out of the five lunch items available for a particular meal. Food portions are served in half-cup size portions, but kids can choose up to a full cup, Bryan said.
On Thursday, kids had homemade chicken pot pie, a side salad, a fruit cup, roll, as well as a choice of chocolate or regular milk.
As long as a child has three of the required elements—fruit or vegetable, bread and a protein, CCISD can “claim” that meal for reimbursement on the summer program. The same is true during the regular school year, and Bryan said the workers encourage students to pick up a fruit and/or vegetable they might not choose.
CCISD summer feeding program times:
- Fairview-Jewell Elementary and Copperas Cove High School from 7 – 7:30 a.m.
- Copperas Cove Junior High, located at 702 Sunny Ave. from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
- Copperas Cove High School, 400 S. 25th St., 7 – 7:30 a.m.
- Crossraods High School, 306 East Ave. E, 8 – 8:30 a.m.
- ASYMCA (in City Park), 1204. Ave. B, Building D, 8 – 9 a.m.
- Fairview-Jewell 10:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.,;
- Copperas Cove Junior High, 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
- Copperas Cove High School, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
- Crossraods High School, noon – 12:30 p.m.
- ASYMCA (Avenue B), 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- ASYMCA, 501 Clara Dr., 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Adult meal prices are $2.50 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch at all locations.
The summer feeding program runs from June 9, 2015 – August 7, 2015 at the Fairview-Jewell, Copperas Cove Junior High, and the ASYMCA locations. The program runs from June 9, 2015 – July 10, 2015 at Copperas Cove High School.
For the summer breakfast and lunch menus, check out the Child Nutrition Department at CCISD.com.