SIKESTON -- Each summer day begins the same.
Veronica Mills and her two daughters, Alanna Mills, 21, and Raea Mills, 17, along with their friend, 19-year-old Brianna Johnson, arrive about 6:30 a.m. at Scott County Central Elementary where they prepare lunches to be delivered to nearly 500 children ages 0-18 at seven sites in the Sikeston area.
Mills and her crew spend the next four hours cooking, counting and packing milk cartons, fruit, entrees and whatever else is needed for the day's menu.
"They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I feel like if they get the middle meal, they can make it for the next day," Mills said.
Mills and her crew work to bring the Summer Food Service Program to the area. Administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program helps assure that children have access to nutritious meals during the summer months.
"The program guarantees local children are getting at least one nutritious meal a day," Mills said.
When school is not in session, the program provides reimbursement to community agencies offering the required continuum of meals. The program contracts with schools and other community-based organizations to sponsor the local programs and provide meals that meet established guidelines.
"People need to know this program is out there," Mills said, adding anyone ages 0-18 can get a meal at a local site.
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