Bridging the summer food gap in Decatur County

School lunch, Decatur County Schools summer program
School lunch, Decatur County Schools summer program
Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-04 13:49:18-04

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WTXL) - A simple meal is something that may often be taken for granted, but for Decatur County residents, that meal isn't always guaranteed.

Luckily, help is underway for the children in the community who are in danger of going hungry during the summer months when school is not in session. 

According to, south Georgia has one of the highest rates of food insecurity and poverty in the nation.

"Decatur County is a high poverty community," says Debbie Purcell,the School Nutrition Director for Decatur County Schools. "We actually participate in what's called the "Community Eligibility Program." Because there is a significant amount of poverty in the area, all of our students eat free, at no cost to them."

The free meals for students extend into the summer when children are more likely to be food insecure and hungry.

"The summer feeding program is to try to help students bridge that nutritional gap from the school year into when we start school again next year," explains Purcell. "For us in Decatur county, we've got five sites that are open the whole month of June."

Children and teenagers within Bainbridge and Decatur County truly count on the summer feeding program by Decatur County Schools to make sure they don't go hungry during the summer., one in every four children in Decatur County is considered to be food insecure, which can cause health and learning problems.

"We think it's important to kind of continue that nutrition supplement as much as possible," says Purcell. "We do the whole month of June. The reason we're not in July is we see our participation really drops in July."

The summer meals provided for students still follow the "National School Lunch Program," and give students more whole grains, and at least one fruit or vegetable. 

During the summer feeding program last June, Decatur County Schools severed about 450 students a day for a total of 9,000 meals. 


Children and teens 18 years and younger can visit any of the five locations throughout Decatur county for a free meal through the month of June:

Bainbridge High School: 

1 Bearcat Blvd, Bainbridge, GA 39819

Mon-Thur, June 4-28

Lunch: 12:30 pm-1:30 pm

Bainbridge Middle School:

1301 E. College Street, Bainbridge GA 39819

Mon-Fri, June 4-29

Breakfast: 8:00 am-8:30 am

Lunch: 11:30 am-12:30 pm

Friendship House of Jesus:

220 North Russ Street, Bainbridge, GA 39817

Mon-Thur, June 4-28

Lunch: 12:30 pm-1:30 pm

Kids and Kops:

601 Potter Street Bainbridge, GA 39819

Mon-Thur, June 4-28

Lunch: 11:30 am-1:00 pm

United Steel Workers Local 170:

103 S. Main Street, Attapulgus, GA 39815

Mon-Thur, June 4-28

Lunch: 11:45 am-1:00 pm

The full menu can be found on the Decatur County Schools website.