Parish picking up lunch tab for teens, children

Free summer lunch program cost parish $55,000 last year, served more than 8,000 hot meals


May 27, 2009 at 10:18 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Once again, St. Charles Parish is shelling out the dough to make sure children and teens 18 years and under receive a free, piping-hot meal for lunch during the summer.

Last year, the parish spent $67,128.34 on the program and was reimbursed $12,000 from the Louisiana Department of Education, which served as co-sponsor. And while more than 8,000 meals were served last summer, the parish expects the turnout to be even bigger this year.

“There was a 25 percent increase from 2007 to 2008, and we expect to serve more this year,” Community Services Director Maurya Glaude said. “We want to get the word out that there are free lunches available for children and teens across the parish.”

From June 8 through July 16, lunches will be available at Albert Cammon Middle School, Luling Elementary and E.J. Landry Alternative School from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Foods such as red beans and rice, spaghetti and meatballs, fresh fruit and homemade drop rolls are just some of the things that will be on the menu during that time.

No child or teenager under the age of 18 living in the parish can be turned away from the program, whether their parents make $20,000 a year or $120,000.

“That state doesn’t allow us to discriminate based on socio-economic backgrounds, so we can’t just offer meals to low income children,” Glaude said. “We offer them to everyone under 18.”

In fact, even those over the age of 18 that have disabilities qualify for the free meal.

“Handicapped citizens that are over 18 are also eligible, as long as they are accredited with a state institution,” Glaude said.

Registration is not required for the meals, and those eligible just have to get dropped off at one of the schools or bussed to the closest location. Pick-up spots are located in Des Allemands, Paradis, Ama, Luling, Boutte, Hahnville, Montz, Norco, New Sarpy, St. Rose and Killona. For a complete list, visit the parish’s Web site at www.stcharlesparish-la.gov.

“If there are any bus stops that aren’t on the list, we always leave open the option for residents to call us so that we can arrange a ride,” Glaude said.

The program was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that children in lower-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer.  The program is the single largest federal resource available for local sponsors who want to combine a feeding program with a summer activity program.




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