DHS seeks help in providing free summer meals to children

State officials are trying to fund more groups — including schools, private nonprofit organizations, government entities and nonprofit residential camps — to serve free meals to children this summer, reports the Times-Free Press.

During the school year, roughly 650,000 Tennessee children get free or reduced-priced school lunches… Last summer, only 42,000 youngsters participated in Tennessee’s Summer Food Service Program, according to officials from the state Department of Human Services, which runs the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program.

“When school is out, the need to reach more children is great,” said Devin Stone, spokesman for the state human services agency.

“[We’d like] as many as we can get to help meet the needs of the nearly 19,000 [children] in Hamilton County that are eligible,” Stone said.

Olivet Baptist Church on M.L. King Boulevard has agreed to participate. So has the city of Chattanooga, which will launch an “Eat and Greet” pilot program in which youths age 18 and under can get free breakfast and lunch at 15 of the city’s Youth and Family Development Centers. The meals — including one hot meal a week — will be prepared in the kitchen at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and then will be delivered to the centers, said Enora “Nori” Moss, spokeswoman for the city’s Youth and Family Development department.