6/16/2014 8:03:00 AM Summer food, class program feeds children, parents alike
Courtesy of The Daily Courier
Each summer, children anxiously wait for the last bell of the school year to indicate the start of the summer - an exciting time for children to enjoy playtime with friends, a week at camp, a family vacation, or time at the pool.
But for many children who rely on school breakfast and lunch, summer can mean hunger. Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child's need for good nutrition. Chino Valley Schools, in partnership with Sodexo School Services, is providing free meals to children as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Meals are served Monday through Friday through July 25. There will be no meal service on July 3 or 4. All children 18 and younger are welcome whether they are enrolled in Chino Valley schools or not. There are no income requirements or forms to fill out. Breakfast is served at Territorial School, on the corner of North Road 1 East and Mahan Drive in Chino Valley next to the community center and pool, from 8 to 9 a.m. Lunch is served at both Territorial School and the Paulden Community Center, on the corner of Marblehead Avenue and Big Chino Road in Paulden, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Chino Valley Schools has been serving summer meals for many years. One of the constants has been Mary Brown, kitchen manager at Territorial Elementary School. Mary has been at Territorial since it opened almost 15 years ago. Mark Orsini, the district's food service general manager, credits Mary with much of the program's success. "Mary has an awesome spirit of service. Mary loves what she does and it is very evident to everyone that enters her café. We are very proud to have Mary leading the summer food program at Chino Valley!"
There is much more going on at the meal serving sites than just eating, Mary said. "We are lucky to have such a great location. We have loads of families living around our school and we are next door to the community center and swimming pool. Parent bring their kids before a swimming session or afterward. A lot of them come in just to cool off and eat."
Activities such as arts and crafts, basketball, hula hooping, and other organized events are available. For some parents it provides an opportunity to get the kids out of the house for some exercise and to burn some energy at a fun, safe place. In addition, parenting classes are available to parents with children ages 0-5. Paid for through a grant from Community Counts and First Things First, the Yavapai County Education Services Agency is offering a program titled "Learn Common Sense Parenting," which was developed by Father Flanagan's Boys Town. Thanks, at least in part to an advertising plan and phone calls to parents, participation has increased by over 70 percent for both breakfast and lunch over last year's numbers.
For information about parenting classes, call 928-442-5726. For the food program, visit chinovalleyschools.com or call 928-583-5409.