FEEDING THE MASSES // SUMMER FOOD SERVICE PROGRAM AIMS FOR LARGER IMPACT

Sometimes Demetria Li just doesn’t feel like cooking.
That is not to say that she does not like to cook. Quite the contrary, actually, Li is all about health and wellness, and she maintains a watchful eye on how each of her three daughters treats their growing bodies. Every day she teaches yoga exercises to each of her daughters- Oleavia, 7, and twins Victoria and Valencia, 6. During the school year, she makes sure to pack lunches for them- usually a ham or turkey sandwich.
“During the school year [the girls] don’t eat in the cafeteria that often,” Li said. “If they’re going to eat in the cafeteria it’s because it’s something they enjoy like grilled cheese and soup or maybe tilapia.”
In the event that they do eat in the cafeteria, Li said, the girls usually notice if it doesn’t taste like Mom’s cooking. On one particularly fateful day, they endured an apparently bland lasagna that just did not meet their standards.
“There’s was plain,” Valencia said, sitting across from her mother
“Yeah, they didn’t have enough tomato sauce,” Victoria agreed.
Li, who seemed appropriately flattered to know that her daughters prefer her cooking, responded modestly.
“Well, when you cook for a lot of people you have to make sure it’s something everybody can eat, so you can’t put so many spices,” Li explained to them.
That incident aside, they usually enjoy eating in the cafeteria. Now that school is out for summer and Li, an ESL professor at the University of Alabama, is also on vacation she has more time to spend with the kids. At the end of the school year, the girls brought home a flier for Tuscaloosa City Schools’ annual Summer Feeding Program, where students 18 years of age and younger can get a free meal for breakfast and lunch each day during the week.
“It’s either this or me cooking,” she said. “Honestly, its hot food and it’s usually pretty healthy. If it’s something that I would cook anyway and I know they’ll eat it, we can come here.”
The Summer Feeding Program is an extension of the national Summer Food Service Program that was founded in 1968 in an effort to ensure that children from low-income families could be guaranteed a healthy meal each day, rather school was in session or not. The program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Service. This summer, program officials hope to serve at least 200 million meals nationwide
According to Chong-Suk Hubbard, Child Nutrition Program manager for Matthews Elementary School, the program is intended to reach students across all demographics.
Each year, select schools in the Tuscaloosa system begin the program in the beginning of June and serve meals all through July 24. While kids can eat for free, adults over 18 can eat too for $1.50 for breakfast and $4 for lunch.
“We don’t I.D. people, if you say you’re 18 we’ll feed you breakfast and lunch,” she said. “Everything is like a home-cooked meal.”
Tuscaloosa schools that will participate in the Summer Feeding Program are:

MONDAY-THURSDAY
• Brookwood Elementary School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 16049 Alabama Highway 216.
• Brookwood High School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 12250 George Richmond Parkway.
• Cottondale Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 2301 Cottondale Lane.
• Davis-Emerson Middle School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 1535 Prude Mill Road in Cottondale.
• Echols Middle School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 11370 Monticello Drive in Northport.
• Holt Elementary School: Serving only in July — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1001 Crescent Ridge Road NE.
• Holt High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 3801 Alabama Ave. NE.
• Matthews Elementary: School serving only in July — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1225 Rice Mine Road.
• Maxwell Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 11370 Monticello Drive in Duncanville.
• Sipsey Valley High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 15815 Romulus Road in Buhl.
• Taylorville Primary School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 350 Bobby Miller Parkway.
• Vance Elementary School: Breakfast 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m.-noon at 18202 Highway 11 N.

MONDAY-FRIDAY
• Arcadia Elementary School, 3740 Arcadia Drive.
• Holt Elementary School: Serving only in June — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1001 Crescent Ridge Road NE.
• Lake View Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 21610 Youngblood Parkway in McCalla.
• Matthews Elementary: School serving only in June — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1225 Rice Mine Road in Northport.
• Tuscaloosa County High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 12500 Wildcat Drive in Northport.
• Walker Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m.-noon at 13051 Northside Road in Northport.

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