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Summer program keeps San Marcos children fed during summer months

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The summer feeding program first started on the campus of San Marcos High School.
Photo by Bri Watkins

A feeding program run by San Marcos CISD has implemented numerous sites around the city to feed disadvantaged children throughout the summer break.

From June 5 to Aug. 11, the program will provide meals at several different sites, including San Marcos High School, Crockett Elementary, De Zavala Elementary, Bonham Pre-K and Doris Miller Middle School.

The summer feeding program began at the San Marcos High School campus and has expanded vastly in the last twelve years since Mike Boone, director of Child Nutrition Services, arrived at SMCISD.

“Most school districts will do a summer school program for a month, which was what was going on when I got here. But, just because it’s summertime doesn’t mean these kids aren’t hungry,” Boone said. “A lot of these kids depend on the meals they’re given throughout the school year, which could be the only meal they’re getting all day, so this helps.”

Boone said his staff keeps busy throughout the summer, which can at times be more work than the regular school year due to the extra sites.

“My assistant has told me before, ‘Mike, we’ve got too many sites already,’ but it’s hard for me to say no when these kids need meals,” Boone said. “We have to be financially responsible, of course, and choose sites where we can get the most kids, but we try to figure out how we can get these kids to the site, or lunches delivered to them.”

The meals prepared by Boone and his staff help feed numerous programs the school district has in place throughout the summer such as athletic training camps and academic activities. Through this program, they have an opportunity to reach children from economically disadvantaged homes, which amounts to over 74 percent of the students enrolled in the district.

“I bring my kids out here every day I can,” said Michelle Cardoza, an elementary school parent. “I’ve been doing this for three years now, and it’s such a blessing to us. The kids are always so happy to get a chance to leave the house, and it makes me happy.”

Boone said the expansion began its progress after Brother Jim Lanning of Redwood Baptist Church approached Boone about opening another site at the church for the children in the area.

“We used to load everyone up on these old vans to go to the high school, but it was such a hassle getting everyone out there,” Lanning said. “Mike Boone was gracious enough to help us with this, which has helped feed so many of our kids out here.”

It was Lanning who also talked to Boone about opening sites at the Martindale Church, CM Allen Housing and Allen Wood Housing. In last year’s summer program alone, over 5,634 meals were served to children, Lanning said.

SMCISD has also provided the Purple Bus Mobile Meals to deliver lunches to students in different areas.

Throughout the summer, the Purple Bus Mobile Meals route will go through four different areas in the city: Morning Wood Neighborhood at 10:30 a.m., Regency Trailer Park at 11:15 a.m., Riverview Apartments at 12:00 p.m. and the Cuauhtemoc Hall Parking Lot at 12:45 p.m.

At each of the sites, children are invited to come into the bus where they must consume their meals to remain in compliance with federal regulation for safety reasons, Boone said.

SMCISD Child Nutrition Service is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which awarded the district $4.3 million for the school year, Boone said. From those funds, $127,525.53 were used for the summer feeding program last year.

Boone and his staff have been both locally and nationally recognized several times for their work by organizations such as the Texas Department of Agriculture and USBA.

Their work has been covered by other news organizations as well, including the Austin-American Statesman and KXAN, but Boone said his program is about the children, not the recognition.

“We’re just here to serve kids. We’re servants,” Boone said. “After twelve years of this, I’ve learned that you’ve got to have a passion for this sort of work and I try to keep that going.”

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