Chattanooga expands Summer food program for children - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga expands Summer food program for children

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Many children depend on their school to provide them with a nutritious meal. Now that school is out for the summer the city of Chattanooga wants area parents and children to know it is here to help.

It is estimated that one out of every five children in America has to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Here in Chattanooga, the city is working to spread the word that it is able to feed more children than ever and it's all for free.

"These are our camp kids. They're great workers," says Shay Smith.

Every morning, at the crack of dawn, workers at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center prepare breakfast and lunch for kids at Chattanooga's Youth and Family Development Centers.

Workers make the rounds delivering the food across town.

"It's a great program. Because without us providing this for the kids, some of them would not eat all day," says Smith.

Shay Smith is in charge of the East Chattanooga Rec Center, looking after 60 kids.

She has been involved with the summer youth program for 19 years.

"I started working as a summer worker. It's something I love to do. Ever since I graduated from high school I've been doing this."

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association, the city can now provide meals to more children.

"It's not just for our students that are attending our youth camps," says Nori Moss, Communications Coordinator for the Department of Youth and Family Development.

Moss says the feeding program was only available to students from a title one school, enrolled in a summer camp.

Now, the centers are open to any child in need.

Not only do they get a meal but also education from a nutritionist on the importance of eating healthy.

"We really want to make sure that the youth, 18 and under, understand that if they would like to come to the Youth and Family Development Centers for breakfast and for lunch, they're more than welcome to do so. They are welcome to do so. They don't have to be a part of our summer youth camps."

The city is looking to feed 1,500 children and even more are welcome.

Moss says the children are getting more than just a meal.

"It's a duel process. You eat healthy, you get free food, but you also have just that place you can go in the community that really cares about you and wants to see you succeed," says Moss.

The free meals are available at all 13 of the city's Youth and Family Development Centers. 

If you are interested in the summer program itself, you are encouraged to contact the manager at each center to make sure there is enough room. 
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