Children who live in the Franklin Vista Apartments in Anthony, N.M., didn’t have to walk far to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch this summer, thanks to Gadsden ISD Food Service Director Demetrious Giovas. He made sure children there were able to gather under the covered porch of the apartment community center for a nutritious meal. The school district set up tables each day to ensure the kids had access to healthy food while school was out of session.
For the first time, Gadsden ISD provided daily breakfasts and lunches to children at apartments through the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program. Food was prepared at the local elementary school, where it was distributed to 14 sites including Franklin Vista Apartments, as well as churches, other community-based facilities and schools. Throughout the summer, sites sponsored by the school district provided an average of 2,000 lunches and 1,900 breakfasts each weekday.
Gadsden ISD’s summer program helped maintain healthy eating and good educational habits among the students in the city of Anthony over the summer. Through the program, Giovas made sure that the children had access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which are an integral part of his school meals program. In addition, volunteers from the Children’s Reading Foundation of Doña Ana County provided free books and read stories to children in conjunction with the lunch service. Children here got the physical and mental nourishment needed while school was out, which will help them return to class ready to learn.
The summer meals site at the Franklin Vista Apartments is one example of the way USDA is working with states and local partners to expand access to healthy meals for kids in the summer. Earlier this year, Food and Nutrition Service regional administrator Bill Ludwig and USDA Rural Development state director Terry Brunner met with officials from Franklin Vista, and the Gadsden ISD to discuss ways to serve more children healthy meals in the summer.
USDA Rural Development has funded many community infrastructure projects in this small town, including the Franklin Vista Apartments complex. Complex manager Blanca Hernandez is committed to serving the children in her community. She even earned the distinction of the USDA Rural Development Site Manager of the Year Award in 2012.
Thanks to commitment like hers and the partnerships that have formed for the sake of our children, we can all look forward to a healthier next generation.