Beginning this summer, the Clarke County School District (CCSD) will run a summer lunch program for the community. The decision was made after the Athens Housing Authority announced that, after 28 years of administering the Summer Food Service Program, it would no longer manage the program. Late last year, the AHA Board of Commissioners and staff decided not to renew the program with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
A number of reasons led to the decision to not renew the program. The Summer Food Service Program took an enormous amount of staff time to administer. Planning and training began in January in order to run the program from the end of May until the middle of July. Though the AHA was reimbursed for many program costs, every year, the costs that the AHA took responsibility for continued to grow.
During the past few years, the AHA tried to work with others to transition to a different local program with a mission more closely related to food insecurity. However, most organizations were unable to take on the complicated program.
“Over time, the AHA diverted many resources to the administering of the Summer Food Service Program,” said Geraldine Clarke, Director of Resident Support. “However, the attention to this one effort made it difficult to initiate other programs that could also benefit our families.”
CCSD, of course, runs breakfast and lunch programs during the school year to benefit all students. In addition, the district’s food service staff always prepared the lunches for the Summer Food Service Program in one cafeteria each year. In the past few years, CCSD also has served lunches at school sites that were not served by the Summer Food Service Program.
“I’m very confident in the new role the CCSD food service program staff will have in making certain that youth will have access to nutritious food during the summer months,” said Dr. Clarke. They have always been an important partner with the Summer Food Service Program and will continue to work for families in Athens in their expanded role.”