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Food programs available to Johnson County children

For the past 15 years, Johnson County schools have provided summer meals at no cost to children between the ages of one through 18. This year, the local Summer Food Program is hoping to expand to reach more children throughout the county.
Johnson County qualifies for the Summer Food Program based on their ratio of free and reduced meals during the school year. Currently, 77 percent of Johnson County students receive meal assistance. The money for this program comes from the State of Tennessee through United States Department of Agriculture. In 2009, there were 1,582 designated sites for the Summer Food Program throughout the state. Recreation centers, schools, churches or even playgrounds can be utilized as designated areas for the children to receive breakfast, lunch and snacks. Healthy food and snacks, such as fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains are served. The program runs between June 1st and July 30th.
In 2009, the Summer Food Program in Johnson County provided food to 20 different sites. This year, they are hoping to be able to reach more children by adding a third van. During the months of June and July of 2009, 2,139 breakfast meals and 13,203 lunches were received by local children. According to Elaine Moore, Johnson County School Nutrition Supervisor, sites will be set up in various locations across Johnson County. In the Laurel area, Moore is hoping to set up locations in Deer Run, Ackerson Creek, Furnace Creek and Red Brush Creek. In the Neva location, site areas include Crackers Neck, Locust Gap and Mill Creek. Moore is hoping to have sites available in or close to Trade. This program has been offered at previous locations such as Johnson County High School, Johnson County Middle School, Doe and Bethany Baptist Church.
Moore would like to see additional areas of the county take advantage of this free program for children. With the addition of a third van, they would able to increase the areas where children can receive meals. Moore is asking for churches and other facilities, especially in the Shady Valley and Butler regions of Johnson County, to provide locations for meals to be served. All that is needed is an open space to serve the food. They do not need restroom facilities, just simply a place to park the van and feed the children. Ideally, Moore would like to have the children eat on site if possible. Any facility that works with children, such as Bible schools, churches or childcare centers, may contact Elaine Moore to discuss food delivery for the children. Moore can be reached at 727-2657.
Children from the age of ten up flock after school to Mountain City/Johnson County Community Center. Flo Bellamy is the director of the community center, welcoming many children each day. Throughout the school year and into the summer months, Bellamy often feeds up to 75 children a day. During the summertime, children are offered breakfast, lunch and an evening snack before heading home. A grant provided funding for food from Second Harvest runs during the school year. During the summer months, Bellamy counts on other sources to feed the children. According to Bellamy, “Almost all of the churches in the area have helped me.” First United Methodist Church provides an account at Food Country for Bellamy to purchase food for the many children who pass through her doors. Members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church pick up donated deli items from Food Lion and deliver them to the community center. Bellamy receives cheese, peanut butter and jelly and other kid-friendly food from local people and churches. “Everybody helps feed these kids,” Bellamy said, “And it’s mostly on a local level.”
From June 14 through June 25th, children from the age of five through 10 can attend Oak Tree Day Camp at Mountain City/Johnson County Community Center. Typically, 30 or more students attend this five-day a week program. Meals for those children attending Oak Tree Day Camp are provided by the Summer Food Program.