STATE LINE, Miss. (WKRG) — A team of a dozen people is serving over 1,500 free meals per day Monday through Friday to children in Greene and Wayne counties, Miss.
The Knobtown State Line Community Development Corporation started the summer feeding program 15 years ago. Staff and volunteers now work to distribute meals June through August at four sites.
Many children are picked-up at their homes to get to one of the sites for breakfast or lunch.
“It’s a good program to let our kids know that someone does care about them,” said program director Isaiah Taylor. “If we didn’t have our program, I think there’d be a lot of kids going hungry. That’s one thing we don’t want. We do not want a child to go hungry, ever.”
While research shows children without proper nutrition may be developmentally delayed and have chronic illness, the organization started the program to also help kids in the community maintain good behavior.
“An adult, when he’s hungry, he can work. He knows what to do to fill his belly. But a child is hungry and mom may not have the money to feed his stomach, he may end up stealing just because he’s hungry. Or if the mother’s gone to work, dad’s gone to work, and they don’t know how to cook, they can even burn the house down.”
In addition to providing meals, staff try to spend time with the children to mentor and encourage them. The organization also hopes to start an after-school program and expand services to the elderly while adding more summer feeding sites in the future.
Each kitchen and meal site is inspected by the county health department and the menu has to meet state and federal nutritional guidelines similar to public schools.
The program operates as part of the Summer Food Service Program through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture with all costs covered by the federal government. 15.3% of households in Mississippi were considered food insecure as of 2020, the highest among all 50 states. The number of children served in Greene and Wayne counties has close to tripled since the beginning of the pandemic.
The organization operates feeding sites through August 3 at the following locations:
- New Hope Baptist Church, Waynesboro
- Knobtown Community Center, State Line
- Mason Chapel Baptist Church, Leakesville
- Mt. Moriah Church Center, State Line
Breakfast is served 8 – 9 a.m. Lunch is served 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Other sites operated by the USDA’s summer meals program are listed on its site finder or by texting FOOD to 877-877.