The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s Nutrition Services Division chose two sites in the state to kick off its summer programs.
One was held in North Georgia. The other took place Tuesday in North Bryan.
This was in part due to the DECL’s long partnership with Bryan County Family Connection and its director, Wendy Futch, according to Tamika Boone, director of the DECAL’s nutrition services.
Futch runs what is considered by the state to be a model program for providing healthy summer lunches, Boone said. Her program is “an excellent example of what we look for in a partnership.”
Several of those partnerships were on display at the kickoff Tuesday at Sawmill Landing Apartments.
On hand were a number of local agencies, from the Bryan County Sheriff ’s Department and Pembroke Fire and Police Departments to representatives of the Coastal Georgia Area CAA looking to sign up families for Head Start and Pre-K beginning this fall. Representatives from Bryan County, Pembroke and Bryan County Schools also attended.
Brianne Yontz, Bryan County area director for the United Way of the Coastal Empire, said Tuesday’s event is an example of why the summer lunch program works.
“Today’s event at Sawmill Apartments in Pembroke was impressive. So many wonderful activities for children and it showcased how hard the Bryan County Family Connection’s team works diligently throughout the summer to ensure families have access to the Summer Lunch program when school is out. United Way of the Coastal Empire is proud to be a collaborative partner improving lives in Bryan County.”
Boone said she and her team were in Pembroke to promote healthy eating habits and DECAL’s USDA-funded Happy Helpings program, which is aimed at giving kids exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables in hopes it’ll promote healthy eating habits while also promoting local agriculture.
The kickoff, which was held in conjunction with Farm to Summer Week, made what is usually a more low-key affair into something of a celebration, with roughly 100 kids getting a chance to play games and more while about 80 meals were distributed.
The Summer Lunch Program has been a fixture in Bryan County for about a quarter of a century, and the Bryan County Commission has partnered with Bryan County Family Connection for 11 years.
“They saw a need,” said Futch of commissioners support for the program, which costs roughly $90,000 annually, much of it reimbursed through the state.
Ordinarily, about 550 locally prepared meals are served Monday through Friday through the summer, with most served “grab and go,” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at various sites in North Bryan, including Cypress Bay Baptist Church, the Julia Bell Haggory Site In Ellabell, Hendrix Park, Pembroke City Park and at Sawmill Landing. Meals are also served at Bryan County Elementary and Bryan County Elementary. Meals are also served at Plantation Apartments in Richmond Hill. There, kids have to stay and eat.
The program is for kids age 1 to 18, there’s no charge for the meals.
For more information, call 912-653-3824