Summer feeding program kicks off with fun and food - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Summer feeding program kicks off with fun and food

Children from a summer camp program enjoy lunch at the Feeding the Gulf Coast kick-off event at Point Cadet Plaza in Biloxi on Friday. (Photo source: WLOX) Children from a summer camp program enjoy lunch at the Feeding the Gulf Coast kick-off event at Point Cadet Plaza in Biloxi on Friday. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The summer certainly can be fun for kids, but it also can be an extra burden on some families to feed hungry children.

However, Feeding the Gulf Coast is ready to meet the demand.

The federal program helps local organizations feed children 18 years and younger during the summer, and helps to supplement free programs through school districts.

“I never realized that so many people along the Gulf Coast needed it until I [got] involved with this organization,” said Victoria Howell, organizer of the program kick-off.

FGC provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks for kids. 

“If you just sit back and kind of watch as they’re eating the lunches or the snacks, like, you can really tell who’s hungry and that this food is making a difference," added Howell. 

The organization is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but depends on local organizations to make it work. Fortunately, it's growing every year. In 2016, 3,000 children in Mississippi alone were served by the effort.

Howell says the program does more than simply provide food.

MOBILE USERS: Click here to view photos from the Feeding the Gulf Coast kick-off

“I think it touches everyone, the directors of all of the sites, knowing that they are helping these children and I think it’s an emotional thing just being there for them," noted Howell. 

The kick-off provided activities for the children, including entertainment and educational information to help them make good decisions.

“This helps us to keep down our camp fees because we don't have to worry about providing food for them because all of this is provided to the participants for free,” said Valarie Jones, who helps lead a summer program for Union Baptist Church in Pascagoula.

“It helps me be happy,” said 10-year-old Jariya Mason. “And I like seeing people that are fed and happy.”

The program originally began in 1981 under the name Bay Area Food Bank. It serves 24 counties in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.

For more information, and to find a site on the Coast, text “Food” to 877-877 or visit https://feedingthegulfcoast.org/sfsp-locations/.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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