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NASD summer program feeding hungry youth

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Symari Adams, 3, gives a look to a Christian Hope Baptist Church Vacation Bible School classmate during the Natchez-Adams School District’s summer feeding program at Frazier Elementary School Monday.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Symari Adams, 3, gives a look to a Christian Hope Baptist Church Vacation Bible School classmate during the Natchez-Adams School District’s summer feeding program at Frazier Elementary School Monday.

NATCHEZThe five cobs of corn and two pizza crust edges left on Walter Parker’s plate Monday afternoon were a sign of success.

Parker, 10, was able to eat a balanced, nutritional meal at no charge through the Natchez-Adams School District’s summer feeding program.

The school district receives state funding each year to provide free meals for children younger than 18 through the summer months.

The program follows a nutritional guide outlined by the state that requires each child to receive meat, bread, fruit, vegetables and milk, NASD food service supervisor Shantoura Spears said.

“We don’t want to just stop the meals kids would normally get at school during the summer time and let them go hungry,” Spears said. “We want to make sure these kids are getting the same nutritious meals even when they’re not in school.”

JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Area summer school and vacation bible school students pack into the Frazier Elementary School cafeteria to eat lunch during the Natchez-Adams School District's summer feeding program Monday.
JUSTIN SELLERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT —Area summer school and vacation bible school students pack into the Frazier Elementary School cafeteria to eat lunch during the Natchez-Adams School District’s summer feeding program Monday.

The nutritional guidelines, however, weren’t as important to Parker as long as he got to eat one of his favorite foods.

“I like corn a lot, so I asked for a few extra corn on the cobs,” Parker said. “I didn’t even have to trade anything for them.”

Normally, Parker said he’s a master trader — bartering for fruit he enjoys or an extra dessert option.

“I don’t like oranges, so sometimes I trade those for pears,” Parker said. “I had a good lunch (Monday).”

Parker and his fourth grade 21st Century, an after-school summer program, classmates walked away from the Frazier Elementary School cafeteria with full stomachs ready to hit the books again.

But Spears said the program isn’t meant to feed only students but instead to provide nutritious meals to any child who walks through the door.

“It’s really for anyone who is hungry and needs a meal,” Spears said. “We have several church groups and other parents might have family in town visiting for the summer, so they can come here and all get a nutritious meal.”

Christian Hope Baptist Church pastor John Scott brings the church’s vacation Bible school participants to Frazier every day during the week for lunch.

“It’s extremely nice to be able to bring the children here because they get to have a balanced meal, and it’s an activity to get them out as well,” Scott said. “We certainly appreciate this program, and I know the parents do also.”

The summer feeding program is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through June 28 at Frazier and West elementary schools, Natchez High School, Broadmoor Community Center and LaGrange Community Center.

Adults who wish to accompany their children can purchase meals for $3.25.