Petal Schools Offering Free Summer Meals - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Petal Schools Offering Free Summer Meals

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For thirteen years the Petal School District has opened their cafeteria doors, serving free meals to children in the area.

Over the past three years the program has gone from one serving sites to three, Petal Upper Elementary, Petal Middle School and Petal High Schools. Each serve breakfast, lunch or dinner and stick with the National School Lunch Program.

Just last year the school implemented a supper program at Petal's Upper Elementary. As a whole, the entire free summer meal program served more than 40 thousand meals in 2012.

"Through the program {we} help the community out by sponsoring some VBS programs and getting food to them through that," says Petal School's Child Nutrition Director Danny Dilllistone. The program is not just for Petal students. The school hosts kids from the Petal YMCA, preschools and vacation Bible schools.  "Normally they would get it during the regular school year, but they're not getting it during the summer. So this is something we do to actually help the community."

According to Dillistone numbers have continued to rise on free and reduced student lunches. "We're about 57 percent free and reduced that shows you we got 57 percent of our community here that's in the poverty level."

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are free to children 18 and younger. "If you're an adult that comes in and wants to eat with your children it's three dollars," says Dillistone.

The lunch program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture. The school district is reimbursed for the number of meals served.  "It's paid at a certain rate for lunch, certain rate for breakfast," says Dillistone. The district is serving more than 800 meals a day. The program runs through August third, school starts August eighth.

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