A summer food program targeting children who qualify for free or reduced lunch is expanding this year to offer a pickup site in West Ashley.
Charleston County School District's Seamless Summer Feeding Program is adding a meal preparation and pickup site at St. Andrew's School of Math and Science after seven facilities in the West Ashley area applied to participate, said Jeremy Tunstill, field supervisor for the school district's Office of Nutrition Services.
The program provides free meals to schools, camps, churches, community and recreation centers, and other facilities that provide summer programming to children and are near a public school where more than 50 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. The program is funded through the National School Lunch Program. Most schools in West Ashley would qualify for a summer program to receive meals, Tunstill said. Children don't have to register individually to receive a meal.
"The whole site is eligible so any child at that site can participate in the program," Tunstill said.
Four meal preparation sites - St. Andrew's, St. John's High, Sanders-Clyde Elementary/Middle and St. James-Santee Elementary - will also provide meals on-site to any children who live in the immediate area.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided for nine weeks from June 9 through Aug. 8. The program is accepting applications for sites to receive meals through May 9. For information on how to apply call 746-1376.
With about half of Charleston County's more than 46,000 students qualifying for free or reduced lunch and only about 4,500 children a day being reached through the summer feeding program, Tunstill said potentially another 20,000 children could be needing access to meals over the summer.
"Our number one goal is to reach more children," he said.
Last year the program provided more than 100,000 breakfasts and more than 200,000 lunches over the 44 days of the program to 140 sites. Tunstill said the program has grown by 30 percent since 2011 when 70,000 breakfasts and 150,000 lunches were provided.
Reach Amanda Kerr at 937-5546 or at Twitter.com/PCAmandaKerr.