More Children Use Summer Food Program For a Free Meal

Sandwiches, fruit and corn on the cob fly off the table in what seems like seconds at this North Abilene Boys and Girls Club.

Around 1-thousand children ages 18 and under are fed breakfast and lunch each day at this site and thirteen others citywide.

"We try to have the meals similar to the school year where they are offered the milk, they have fresh fruits and vegetables," says Abilene Independent School District Dietician Kristi Murphy.

The program, run by the Abilene School District and funded by the Department of Agriculture, has grown by nearly 10-thousand meals in the month of June since 2010.

"Usually in July our numbers start to go down, after the fourth of July. But this year we're staying very consistent," says Murphy.

While the increase is certainly representative of the years economic standpoint, program directors say a boost in local marketing is bringing in more kids each year.

"We're always coming up with new ideas to try and advertise and marketing and outreach to get the word out," said Murphy.

The city kids aren't just getting a free meal. Last year the program started education initiatives as well to keep kids full and healthy during the summer months.

"We take our fill up and move nutrition bus to a few different sites and we go and do physical activities and then we do nutrition related activities inside the bus," explains Murphy.

Luckily, the way that the program is funded allows for larger numbers, which they say will likely continue to increase over time.

"There are so many people that just don't know about the program or don't really know that it really is just a free meal," says Murphy. "There are still lots of families that could benefit."

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