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franklin county times
Photo by Alison James Children load up on a full meal as part of the after-school program efforts by Russellville Parks and Recreation and Russellville City School Child Nutrition program. Parks and Rec feeding programs will be bolstered by $45K in grants from the National Recreation and Parks Association and Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs.

Grants boost Russellville feeding program

Thanks to a $25,000 National Recreation and Parks Association grant, the City of Russellville Parks & Recreation Department will be able to greatly expand its summer feeding program for 2017.

The Parks & Recreation Department received word of the grant recently, obtained through its cooperation with the National Recreation and Park Association, to support its out-of-school time healthy food access and nutritional literacy programs.

The grant is part of a $1.5 million grant NRPA received from the Walmart Foundation to support summer food programs in 40 parks and recreation agencies across the country.

The purpose of the grant, according to the NRPA, is to:

– Increase the number of healthy meals children in low-income communities receive through the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program
– Provide nutrition literacy to children and families that creates behavior change by teaching the importance of healthy eating
– Implement nutrition standards that increase access to healthier foods and support a healthy eating environment
– Implement meal and program efficiencies that increase community sustainability.

Parks and Rec Director Chad Sears said the grant will help increase access to healthy foods and improve opportunities for physical activity. The department will also receive additional support for meals provided through USDA afterschool and summer feeding programs as well as nutritional literacy materials to help ensure life-long healthy habits for local youth.

Crucially, Sears said, the department will be able to expand its program to five sites this year. Summer meals will be served at the Canteen, Eastside, Westside, Chucky Mullins and the Bishop Center.

The grant supports NRPA’s campaign Commit to Health, which “encourages the implementation and evaluation of healthy eating (and) physical activity standards in park and recreation sites nationwide,” according to the NRPA. NRPA’s goal is to have at least 2,000 participating sites in five years.

According to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, 48.8 million Americans, including more than 13 million children, struggle with hunger.

“Thanks to a successful three years with Commit to Health and the Walmart Foundation, over 228,000 children now have improved access to healthy foods and physical activity,” said Kellie May, NRPA director of health and wellness. “Parks and recreation are proving their critical role in the health of their communities, and we can’t wait to see the impact this year’s grants will have on fostering lifelong healthy habits in children across the country.”

“We are excited to receive a grant of this magnitude,” Sears reiterated. “This gives the City of Russellville the opportunity to feed more children during the summer months.”

The grant follows on the heels of a National League of Cities grant the department received earlier in the year. Russellville was one of 31 cities to be selected for technical assistant and grant funding in Alabama, California and Kansas “to reduce childhood hunger by expanding participation in the federally-funded afterschool and summer meal programs,” according to a press release. The $20K Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs, or CHAMPS, grant was obtained through assistance by the Russellville City Schools Child Nutrition Program, spearheaded by Elaine Vaughn. Summer meal opportunities will include breakfast as well as lunch. “It will be really beneficial for Parks and Rec and our budget and give us the chance to feed kids,” Sears said. Meals are prepared by RCS CNP.

 

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