The McCreary County School District’s Summer Feeding Program was a resounding success according to Food Service Director Mitzi Stephens.
With more than 4,200 meals served to children in just over two months the program exceeded expectations, and set the bar higher for next year and beyond.
“We have had a lot of positive feedback,” Stephens said. “Once word got out we had a lot more participation. This is one of the most positive things I’ve been involved in with the school system.”
With only about two months of actual operation, Stephens and her team had to quickly organize and plan for distributing free meals to children across the county. As word of the program spread, the newly decorated bus expanded their daily stops to churches and other summer programs to feed the children.
Stephens is already looking to expand the program for next year, including plans to add an awning to the bus that will allow for easier distribution of food in rainy or hot weather. Additionally she intends to add enrichment programs to the route as well, providing education along with nutrition.
With the success of the inaugural summer behind them, Stephens said she would take everything she learned and incorporate the ideas in to next year’s endeavor. She feels now that the program has demonstrated what it is capable of achieving, more church groups and other organizations will sign up to be a part of the program next year.
“I really would like to thank the Board of Education for their support for this program,” Stephens said. “And our partners the McCreary County Public Library for giving us books to distribute and Kroger for donating extra food.”
With the summer food program behind them, Stephens and her staff are focused on the new school year and bringing new innovations and food to the schools.
She is working on brining a new meal app online that will allow students and parents to view menus on their phones and also give them nutritional and allergen information.
The Meal Viewer app not only will display menus, but it will also give the students the option to vote on what foods they like and don’t like in an effort ensure the children not only get healthy food options, but also ones they will actually eat.
The app is just the latest improvement Food Service has brought in to the system over the past couple years. Stephens said their goal is to make sure the children get the nutrition they need, and the food they want.
“I think there are a lot of neat things we have done lately to make school food kid and parent friendly,” Stephens said.
She noted that any parent with a child with special dietary needs (diagnosed by a physician) should contact Food Service at (606) 354-2776 to find out how to get special meals for their student.