School’s out: Collaborative effort provides nutrition over summer

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Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club members Mya Myles, left, and Donshauneh Ford-Tingle enjoy a nutritious cookout style lunch at the Day of Fun.

SEAFORD – School’s out for summer.

For some, that presents nutritional challenge.

Close to 550 kids from six Boys & Girls Clubs in Sussex County on July 8 enjoyed outdoor activities and a nutritious cookout-style meal at the Boys and Girls of Western Sussex Club during the Day of Fun, which served as a promotional venue for Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware’s Summer Food Service Program.

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Amy Mitchell of the Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club serves corn on the cob to one of the more than 500 Boys & Girls Club youth from Sussex clubs that participated in the Day of Fun.

Established through the United States Department of Agriculture, the Summer Food Service Program was developed to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.

Free meals, which meet federal nutrition guidelines, are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of children from low-income families.

“For some of the kids, this is all they get throughout the day …,” said Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club Director Betty Harmon, whose club membership is 153 ranging from ages 5-13.

In the summer of 2014, children attending Boys & Girls Club sites received about 132,000 breakfasts, lunches and snacks as part of this nutritional program.

The projection for 2015 is in ballpark.

“We anticipate providing over 130,000 meals just in the summer months alone. We know for many of the kids here … it makes a very big difference,” said George Krupanski, President/CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.

In Delaware, the SFSP is operated in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition.

“We are really thrilled to be partners with the Boys & Girls Club and to be able to feed so many kids during the summer months as well as during the school year,” said Aimee Beam, of the Delaware Dept. of Education Nutrition Office.

Meals include a combination of breakfast and lunch or lunch and afternoon snack, depending on hours of operation at various sites.

The program is monitored daily to ensure that youth are being served well-balanced meals that meet nutrition stands set by the USDA and State of Delaware.

“So, having a well-balanced meal and well-balanced snack, keeps them active, keeps them heathy – and the obesity rate goes down by them having this nutritional meal. It keeps their brain power going, keeps their bones strong because they are getting the milk that they usually don’t get,” said Ms. Harmon. “So for Dagsboro, it has been very important and it has been helpful, because without it some of these kids wouldn’t have a meal at all. So we appreciate it.”

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At left, Tony Windsor, the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware’s statewide Food Program Coordinator, prepares to take the microphone after being introduced – and honored – by Boys & Girls Club CEO George Krupanski.

“We do immensely appreciate the support that we get from the USDA and the state of Delaware Office of Nutrition,” said Tony Windsor, State Food Program Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club. “They are with us every step of the way, making sure we do things right and that we get things done the way they should be done – and that we are always looking out for the best interest of our children, who are our No. 1 priority without question.”

Clubs participating in Day of Fun included Georgetown, Oak Orchard, Rehoboth,Laurel and Seaford.

A special Day of Fun highlight was an appearance by Power Panther, the mascot ambassador for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, whose mission is to encourage and teach children, parents, and caregivers to eat healthy and be physically active every day.

The task of feeding more than 500 hungry youngsters and dozens of club representatives and other adults was undertaken by Connections Community Support Program, which is the official provider of meals and snacks for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware SFSP.

During the school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware also participates in the Child/Adult Care Food Program, which provides nutritious suppers after school as well as breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks to the organization’s pre-school sites.

To assist the SFSP reach more children, Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware has reached out to surrounding communities in Sussex and Kent counties, encompassing more than a dozen sites to its roster of SFSP serving sites.

“The state has asked us to reach also out to 15 other agencies to help provide the meals to those agencies, who without our support may not be able to offer it to their kids,” said Mr. Krupanski. “We’re delighted to do that because that extends our reach.”

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Power Panther, the U.S.D.A.’s mascot, is mobbed as he makes his special appearance at Day of Fun held at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club. More than 500 youth from Boys & Girls clubs in Sussex County, attended the event.

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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