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February 15, 2014

A BITE OUT OF HUNGER: New Albany food program gets big grant

NEW ALBANY — Instead of the usual snack, they got a full meal and practically cleaned their plates.

On Wednesday, the New Albany Parks Department celebrated a $10,000 grant they were awarded for their Snack Attack food program from General Mills. Kathy Wilkerson, assistant director of the department, said the money will sustain the program for the whole year.

“We’re thrilled, it means a lot,” Wilkerson said. “We stretch it, we don’t waste a thing. We make sure every item we buy from the store is used for that purpose.”

The program feeds children after they get out of school while they wait at the four recreational centers in the city for their parents to pick them up. Wilkerson said normally, it serves about 150 children daily, Monday through Thursday.

She said normally, children might get a simple sandwich, a fruit and some juice to hold them over until their parents get them. But on special occasions or holidays, they get a full meal.

Wednesday, the menu included chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, a fruit cup and Rice Krispy Treats for dessert.

She said the program also teaches children a little about healthy eating habits, as well as some hygiene that goes along with them.

“We teach the kids about nutrition and snacks, what’s good and not and brushing their teeth,” Wilkerson said. “We have an education program that goes along with that throughout the year.”

She said in the 15 years the program has fed children, it’s come a long way. The first five years, it was completely supported by community members and whatever they could donate. After multiple sponsorships, including the Elks Club, she said it’s grown to become more full-service.

But she said there are always opportunities for volunteers by visiting the Griffin Street center.

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