Today’s Friday Feature is June Barrett. June is the Program Coordinator for the Child Nutrition Program at the Alabama Department of Education.
This is her story:
As a local child nutrition director early in my career, I joined a table of kindergarten children during lunch. The time of year was first of December. As I talked with the kindergarten students about their day, their lunch, I commented about the excitement and anticipation of Santa’s arrival. I then asked the question are you looking forward to Christmas break. The response that I received was not one that I expected from one 5 year old. He promptly said No I am not looking forward to Christmas break. I then asked why not? He then looked up at me with big brown eyes and said Ma’am because I will not have anything to eat from the day we get out until the day I come back to school after Christmas. I then realized that the meals that were planned, prepared and served to many children were the only food items that many of the children in our school district were provided daily.
Healthy meals for children are imperative. A quote that I saw several years ago impacts each child each day, “You can’t teach a hungry child”
The Child Nutrition Programs Section is responsible for administering and ensuring compliance of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services Programs for Alabama’s children from birth through high school, adults who meet the USDA Food and Nutrition Programs criteria and USDA Donated Food distribution which includes Temporary Assistance and Emergency Food Programs for the State of Alabama. Alabama administers approximately 10 USDA programs with an annual budget of approximately $773,400,000.
When ECHA was formed, Dr. Tommy Bice, former State Superintendent, asked me to represent the State Department of Education, and the Superintendent, when he was unable to attend meetings.
ECHA has been beneficial in allowing Child Nutrition to partner with peers from other state organizations who have the same goal- providing children with accessibility to healthy food choices and meals daily to promote normal growth and development.