Program celebrates 50 years of feeding hungry students


Many Shelby County students are counting on a federally funded feeding program to keep their bellies from growling through the hottest months of the year.

Each summer, thousands of Shelby County Schools students rely on the summer feeding program to keep them fed while they don't have access to school lunches.

The program has been in place in Shelby County for 50 years.

"It's really amazing Shelby County, former legacy Memphis City, to provide such an important service during the summer when school is out," School Operations Director Calvin Johnson said.

In 2017, the program delivered 12,000 summer meals to organizations across the district that provide summer activities for SCS students ages 18 and younger.

For the past 35 years, Johnson has overseen the district's breakfast and lunch programs in addition to the summer feeding program.

"During the school year, we serve close to 80,000 students for lunch and maybe 60,000 at breakfast," Johnson said.

Darnesha Hayes and Aubri Johnson will be starting fourth grade in the fall. Without the program, they may go days without eating a balanced meal.

"There are a lot of kids that have the lunch feeding program in summer camps and schools," Johnson said.

"If you don't eat that much you probably hungry and you probably won't answer all the questions," Hayes said.

"We are making every attempt to serve any kid anywhere this summer," Johnson said. "It's uplifting to go and know you've provided service for needy kids."

This year, the program is trying something new: a mobile feeding program.

The van will head out Friday to pass out free lunches to anyone 18 and younger who is hungry. The location for this handout has not been finalized.

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