As fall break begins for Trousdale County Schools, the school district, in partnership with the Hartsville Backpack Program, is offering Trousdale County families the opportunity to pick up food boxes at no cost to them.

“We have a partnership with the Hartsville Backpack Program,” said Trousdale County Schools Supervisor of Coordinated School Health and Nutrition Kathy Atwood. “The Backpack Program will be giving out food on Saturday, Oct. 15. Students will be getting a flyer. So, if a family needs food, they can get free food that day at the Church of the First Born through the Hartsville Backpack Program.”

In response to COVID-19, for the past two years, school breakfasts- and lunches were provided through the Seamless Summer Option, which also offered meals to children during school breaks. The Seamless Summer Option is a child nutrition program that is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of the program is to ensure that children continue to receive well-balanced meals during school breaks that exceed 10 days.

“We are not doing the Seamless Summer Option year-round anymore,” said Atwood. “So, the ability to be able to give out meals went along with Seamless Summer. We’ve now gone back to the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program. So, everybody still eats free, but we just can’t give food out outside of the school cafeteria.

“The National School Lunch Program has a different set of rules than the Seamless Summer Option. What the U.S. government did for last year and the year before was, instead of us using the National School Lunch Program, we used Seamless Summer all year long.”

Families with children from birth through the end of high school are eligible for the Hartsville Backpack Program. The only stipulations are that children must reside with the parents or guardians in Trousdale County and must still be attending school.

“Any family in Trousdale County can come and get food if they need it,” said Atwood. “There really are no qualifications, except that they live in Trousdale County and that their children are still attending school and are living with the parents.

“They can receive a box of food for every child in the family. The boxes include items like pop-top chili and some snack items. They also include things that parents can make meals out of. They have things like peanut butter, and there is always some kind of bread. They also have items like spaghetti and spaghetti sauce. Every time we do a distribution, it’s different. There’s all kinds of food for the family. It’s enough to hold them for a week or more, so that they will have food in their home.”

The Hartsville Backpack Program not only gives out food boxes during school breaks, but also runs off of an every-other-week schedule, on Saturdays, to provide food boxes to families in need throughout the year. The schedule can be found on the Hartsville Backpack Program’s Facebook page.

For families wanting to take advantage of the program during fall break, food will be available for pick-up on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Church of the First Born, located at 250 McMurry Boulevard in Hartsville.

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