By Mike James, Daily Independent
CATLETTSBURG: Nutrition experts want you to know lunch is still served every day for children this summer at several area locations.
That is why Catlettsburg Elementary School opened its doors Friday for a special event to promote summer food programs.
Children were invited to eat lunch, play games and learn about tasty and nutritious foods, and their parents were reminded lunch and breakfast sites will continue to serve for some time to come.
“Participation tends to slack off after the Fourth of July, with people concentrating on back-to-school preparation and last-minute vacations, but kids are hungry all summer,” said Chris Napier, a food service assistant in the Boyd County School District. “We want parents and kids to know we’re still here and still open.”
The menu Friday included hot dogs and other child-friendly fare, but also introduced children to some lesser-known but just as tasty foods, such as microgreens.
Cannonsburg gardener Dave Mayhew, who supplies some produce to the district, brought enough fresh, tender mustard greens to garnish salads, and also several trays of harvest-ready greens to show children how they are grown.
Mayhew sows the seeds thickly in flat trays in his home greenhouse and the seedlings are ready to harvest and eat as soon as 10 days after planting.
He also brought some tomato plants and freshly harvested new potatoes to demonstrate the origin of vegetables. “Gardening is a science and teaches us a lot about life,” he said. “I think it’s important for kids to know how things are brought into the world.”
Summer food programs are getting more attention from families and the proof is in response to a text-message service offered by the state program, said Cathy Gallagher, section supervisor for the state program.
The service brings information on nearby programs and hours straight to users’ cell phones. To use the service, text “food” to 877877.
The service, used 560 times in 2017, has been used more than 12,000 times in this year, Gallagher said.
That’s important because a lot of families, including those with lower incomes whose children who most need the meals, don’t know about the program, she said.
Boyd County’s program at Catlettsburg concludes July 12 but continues at Summit Elementary until Aug. 11.
District nutrition officials are discussing the possibility of mobile routes where they prepare meals at the school cafeteria and then deliver them to locations closer to where children congregate, Napier said.
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