KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL-TV) – A summer meal program in Sullivan Co. wrapped up today with its biggest crowd so far.
The 2016 program called “School’s Out, Let’s Cook-out” wrapped up its eight event run with a cookout at Sullivan North High School, but the rains came and forced everyone into the school. But the rain didn’t keep the crowd down as more than 400 people showed up which was more than expected.
Each free meal consisted of a hot dog or hamburger, veggie side, fruit, milk and water. They also offered free snow cones, popcorn, books and more. Boxes of food were also available for those in need.
“We ran out of food today, thankfully, I have a couple of friends that were willing to go to Pal’s and buy hot dogs until we could get some more hamburgers here and get them on the grill.”, explains School’s Out, Let’s Cook-out Coordinator Teri Hammonds.
This was the second summer for the county’s summer feeding program and the numbers for this year are way up from last year’s program.
“This year, we changed it up a little bit, we changed it to try to make it fun, enjoyable to bring people out to have fun.”, explains Hammonds, “Last year, we had prepared meals that we actually took down to different church locations and fed children on site, we didn’t see a whole lot of participation last year. This year, we talked about it and decided “what do we need to do to get communities involved?”. We want to reach as many people as possible so we decided on kind of a Fun Fest kind of thing, block party kind of thing.”
For many children, summertime means having an empty stomach. Child hunger and food insecurity can often peak when school is out. This program was started to help address this problem and has had much success, serving nearly 2,000 meals this summer. And the hope for the third year is to help even more kids.
“I already have some plans for next year. I’m thinking ahead, I want to get started much earlier than I was allowed this year.”, Hammonds says, “I want to see it grow next year to serve even more people and possibly even more weeks.”
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