|There are no free lunches, somebody has to pay for
For the last two years, the Loudon County school system has provided "free" summer breakfasts and lunches for kids under 18. Alison Millsaps, food and health services supervisor for Loudon County schools said, "We don't ask a name, "We don't verify income. If they look under 18, they can eat." Money to run the program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is filtered to the school district through the human resources agency, said Millsaps.
So essentially, any parent who doesn't want to pay to feed their kids can let the tax payers foot the bill. The free feeding program was well advertised in the local paper and local media outlets. But that apparently wasn't enough.
Taped in the front window at The State Department Of Human Services in Lenoir City was the notice below.
The Department of Human Services office is where everybody including illegal aliens go to get all the other "free" stuff paid for by the tax payers.
It is unfortunate that our society is quickly becoming a society of entitlement who expects someone else to pay their bills.
Summer programs offer meals at no cost to kids of all backgrounds
Brady Fields, 7, and his younger sister, Trista, 4, felt like "big kids' twice a week last summer when they got to eat lunch at the large cafeteria at Loudon High School.
They ate the same food as teenagers and even sat next to them.
The Fields children visited the high school as part of the Summer Feeding Program, which the Loudon County School District participates in to ensure local children receive well-balanced meals throughout the summer months.
Kelli Doss, their mother, said she would take the kids for lunch on their way to the public pool near the school.
"I know they are getting a nutritious meal instead of just junk," Doss said. "There's only junk food at the pool like pizza."
When they went to the high school, Brady and Trista ate a sandwich, fruit, vegetables and drank milk or juice.
It was a much better lunch than the hamburger and fries she would normally feed her children when in a hurry. And it was much less expensive for a family than a meal at a restaurant, she said.
This summer, the breakfast and lunch the Loudon County School District will provide Monday through Friday from June 7 to July 30 is free, said Alison Millsaps, food and health services supervisor for Loudon County schools.
"We don't ask a name," Millsaps said. "We don't verify income. If they look under 18, they can eat."
The food is made at the high school, but the district offers the meals at a variety of approved sites in Loudon, including churches, the Boys & Girls Club and organizations that host summer camps.
In 2008, Millsaps said the Loudon High School cafeteria staff approached her with an idea to start a summer feeding program.
With about 60 percent of the district's students qualifying for free or reduced-cost lunch, Millsaps knew there was a need, but didn't know just how great until she spoke to Michelle Bushey, cafeteria manager at the high school.
"We see these kids everyday," Bushey said. "They eat everything and you know they are probably not eating at home."
Many families in Loudon rely on the free and reduced meals during the school year and the number of families who qualify for the subsidy continues to grow as more people in the area lose jobs, Millsaps said.
"It only makes sense - if they need help during the school year that they have help in the summer," Millsaps said.
Loudon schools are fairly new to the Summer Food Service Program administered by the East Tennessee Human Resources Agency, which helps direct summer feeding programs in 12 other counties, including Anderson, Blount and Sevier.
Money to run the program comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is filtered to the school district through the human resources agency, said Millsaps.
During the first summer in 2008, the Loudon school district served 24,000 meals and in 2009 that number grew to more than 40,000 meals, Bushey said. This summer is expected to be even busier. Millsaps said she hopes to expand the program with a delivery system. She knows there are children still slipping through the cracks.
"A lot of times people don't believe we have hungry children, hungry adults in the United States," Millsaps said, "but there are."
2010 Summer Feeding Program provides free meals for kids
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Brenda Weatherly will be spending much of summer by the pool watching her seven kids splash around. What this Loudon County mother didn't know was that just down the street, her kids can go grab a bite to eat for free.
"Now I know they can go right next door for lunch and get something to eat when we come to the pool," Weatherly said.
This summer, the Loudon County School District is providing two well-balanced meals throughout the summer months as part of the Summer Feeding Program. Alison Millsaps, food and health services supervisor for Loudon County Schools, said breakfast and lunch will be served for free Monday through Friday from June 7 to July 30.
"The program is available to anyone in Loudon County under the age of 18," Millsaps said. "We don't require a name or proof of age, if you look like you're under 18, we're going to let you eat."
Weatherly said her son knows a few classmates who wouldn't get anything to eat during the school year unless they were at school. Millsaps said this summer would be no different.
"We have over 50 percent of our students on free or reduced lunch," Millaps said. "It makes sense that if they need help during the school year then they're going to need help in the summer months as well."
Michelle Bushey, the cafeteria manager at Loudon High School, said they decided to create the program in Loudon County after they noticed many students eating everything they could eat at school. During the summer of 2008, Bushey said they launched the program and served about 26,000 meals. In 2009, they served 40,000 meals, Bushey said.