USDA program offers meals to kids - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

USDA program offers meals to kids

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Students at Hunt Middle School have been looking forward to lunchtime all morning.

"Chicken patty with grapes, carrots and milk," said student Najima Nusa.

Monday marked the first day the Summer Food Service Program, which offers free summer meals to kids. The program is organized through the Burlington School Food Project and will provide free breakfast and lunch at schools -- and non profits. Hunt Middle School currently feeds 150 students. As the program continues, the school hopes to eventually feed nearly 1,500.

"Our goal is to help reach kids that may be living in food insecure homes, but really just to reach all kids, because food in the summer time is much more difficult for children to access," said Doug Davis, the school's Food Service Director.

Last year 6,800 students benefited from the program and Hunger Free Vermont says nearly 31,000 students not in the program went hungry.

For each summer meal a school serves, it's fully reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But at Hunt, students also play a role in bringing meals to the table. Throughout the year, they plant vegetables -- last year the school harvested more than  7,000 pounds of food. "The meals that are served inside the school, depending on the season and what's ready to be harvested, that food will be moved into the kitchen," Davis said. "Our goal is to have gardens at all of our schools to give kids the opportunity to learn from the garden and to have an impact in the school food that they're being offered."

And when it's time to eat, any student can enjoy a meal at any Vermont school.  "All of these programs can be accessed by any student under the age of 18," Davis said.    

Students don't have to sign up for the program -- just show up, grab a seat, and get a bite -- or two -- to eat.

For more information: 802.864.8416, or visit: www.bsdvt.org. Call 2-1-1 for information on free summer meals for kids across Vermont. Text mealsVT to 877-877 for information on meal sites nearest you.

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