Geneva County working to feed children in the Wiregrass
The weekly curbside meal pickup will be available through July 2021.
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A child’s nutrition is vital in every season, not just during school. That’s why some schools are working to provide meals for not only their students, but any child or teen in need.
News four spoke with a pediatrician about the importance of this, Dr. Jacob Edwards with Dothan Pediatric Subspecialty Center said a child’s nutrition is the most important thing a parent should care for. He said parents and caregivers should provide the child with adequate nutrition and access to meals. However, for some kids, school is the only time they are provided a meal, so when there are school breaks that meal is gone.
That’s why some Wiregrass schools are working to keep that from happening.
“Especially in more rural areas you can have what is called a food desert and that’s where you just don’t have access to stores that provide quality nutrition so fresh fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Edwards said.
Leaving parents forced to turn to convenient store foods.
“If we don’t get those proper nutrients then that can put you behind in school, you can have delays with thinking, you can fall asleep, you may not be able to thrive and reach your potential,” Dr. Edwards said.
That’s why some Wiregrass schools are making an effort to continue to feed these children after the classroom doors have closed for the summer.
“We encourage everyone to come out and participate,” Deborah Justice, manager of the Geneva County Elementary, Middle and High school lunchrooms, said.
Geneva County Schools Child Nutrition Program are feeding roughly 300 kids each Wednesday. Offering curbside pick up at Geneva County Elementary School to anyone in the community who has children between the ages of one and 18.
“This has been a tough year,” Justice said. “This has been a hard year not only on the parents, on the students, having to wear masks, having to social distance in school and we want to ease the burden a little bit.”
Each child gets seven days worth of meals for breakfast and lunch for free.
Dr. Edwards said nutrition is key for a child’s development, helping them to grow taller, stronger and most importantly, develop the brain.
“Providing them with that continuation of food helps nourish them and keeps them healthy and thriving so that when they come back to school they are able to continue and meet their needs,” Dr. Edwards said.
His biggest tip: plan ahead.
“You want to make sure they are getting protein which is going to be your beef and your chicken but you need to also include lots of fruit and veggies,” Dr. Edwards said.
You are not required to be in the Geneva County School district to these receive meals.
Those helping say it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
“We enjoy it,” Justice said. “I enjoy my job, I enjoy coming out here, I enjoy seeing people.”
Beyond the programs goal of feeding the youth of the Wiregrass, they are also encouraging tomorrow’s leaders to make a difference.
“At this age we are more able to do things, we have the ability and some of us even have the free time do stuff,” Tuesday Shields, upcoming junior, said. “So, being able to get everyone, like children and adults, out here helping everybody who’s in need, it really helps everybody, it ends up helping the future.”
On Thursday the program will be at Slocomb. Meal boxes will be available for curbside pickup from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here is the Geneva County Schools Child Nutrition Program Summer meal pickup schedule:
Tuesday: Samson High School 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Wednesday: Geneva County Elementary 10 a.m. - 2p.m.
Thursday: Slocomb High School 10 a.m. - 2p.m.
Meal pickups will be available through July 2021.
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