The program is an effort with the YMCA and Chattanooga Food Bank to provide a free meal to less fortunate children from birth to 17-year-olds.
“There is a large percentage of children in this area that get the free and reduced lunches,” Stephenson said. “Just because they go home for the summer doesn’t mean there is anymore money at home.”
Seventy-three percent of students in the Walker County school system were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches during the recently completed school year, according to Michelle Coker, coordinator of school food services.
Stephenson wanted to bring the summertime lunch program to LaFayette after hearing about it at the Rossville Athletic Center for 2011.
“There are just so many kids out there that need all the help they can get,” Stephenson said.
Members from LaFayette First United Methodist Church, 301 S. Main Street, will hand out the meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the meals will be available from members at Second Baptist Church, 500 W. Main Street, during the same time.
The well-balanced lunches will include fruit and vegetables and low-fat milk in a sack lunch bag.
The entree item will vary from a ham-and-cheese hoagie, turkey on a bagel, taco salad and other nutritious options, according to Stacey Smith, program coordinator for North Georgia YMCA. The traditional staple of peanut butter and jelly will not be among the lunches since some kids are allergic to peanut butter.
Meals will also be available at the LaFayette Housing Authority at 300 Oak Street.
The program will adjust if more children arrive at the various sites. Site coordinators will relay the numbers they are serving each day and will increase based on participation. The five sites began the program on June 11 and will continue through Aug. 24.
The program is made possible through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to fight child hunger during the summertime.
For the past two years, and prior to the USDA grant, the Walker County Teen Resource Center partnered with the Chattanooga Food Bank and delivered lunches in Rossville.
The food must now be eaten at all of the sites, which will also have activities for the youngsters ranging from stories, singing and games.
The Rossville Athletic Center at 500 William St. and Rossville Apartments at 800 Walker Ave. will also have the lunch program from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 weekdays.