MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It is said there is no such thing as a free lunch, but school-age children can get a free meal from Department of Defense Dependent Schools at Tarawa Terrance II Elementary School and Brewster Middle School.
Congress established the Summer Food Services Program in 1989 with the belief that healthy meals should not end when summer vacation begins. The program is primarily directed toward children in needy areas; however, all children in an approved geographical area, regardless of a family's economic status may benefit from the program, according to http://www.am.dodea.edu/.
“Good nutrition does not end just because the school year ends,” said Jan Holt, the Food Services Director for Camp Lejeune dependents schools.
The lunches are a way for children to receive a healthy meal while school is not in session and their parents are working, according to Wanda Carey, a cashier at the school cafeteria. There is no sign up needed for the children to eat lunch.
The school feeds 300-400 children everyday at the two school cafeterias. In the afternoons, the cooks and cashiers go to the Stone Street Youth Pavilion to serve food to other children, according to Jennifer Watson, a cafeteria worker and has been with the program for 16 years.
The children arrive at the school by walking, riding with their parents or with different clubs that bus them to the school to eat, according to Wyonia Chevis, the assistant principal at the school.
The cafeteria offers healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables along with a choice of two main dishes, two vegetables and a fruit along with a dessert, according to Lillie Wilkins, a cafeteria worker at the school. The fruits and vegetables are brought in from local farms and are delivered twice a week to the schools.
The free lunch also gives the children an opportunity to experience different kinds of food while allowing them to make healthy choices about what they eat, according to Carey. It also allows children that have not been to school to get used to the cafeteria and it’s environment.