MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Shelby County Schools wants to make sure no child goes hungry this summer.
The summer meals program is paid for with federal tax dollars and is free to every student under the age of 18 regardless if they go to SCS. Starting June 24, parents can drive to one of nine high schools and pick up seven breakfasts and seven lunches every Thursday until July 22.
The meals will be available for pickup between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Central, Douglass, Raleigh Egypt, Kirby, Cordova, Westwood, Oakhaven, Ridgeway and Melrose high schools.
Zauntari Moses was up bright and early with his children Thursday morning to get in line at Central High School to receive their free meals.
“It means a lot to us and our family and the other kids in the area,” he said.
SCS Nutrition Services Menu Planning Manager Kim Stewart said the district plans on distributing a minimum of two thousand meals each week. The schools where the meal distributions will take place were strategically picked as distribution sites in order to reach some of the county’s most vulnerable populations.
“We probably have about 76-percent of our students who are on free or reduced lunches, and then some children live in areas where there are food deserts,” she said. “So we want to make sure those children have access to good healthy meals every day.”
Every SCS student is eligible regardless of income, but the program will be especially beneficial to those who live in poverty. According to the University of Memphis, 35 percent of Memphis children live in poverty. In fact, Memphis ranks second in the nation in child poverty after Detroit.
Many families are also still struggling with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The University of Memphis noted in its recent report on poverty that Memphis is among the first places to experience economic disaster and decline, but one of the last to recover.