PETAL, MS (WDAM) - The Petal School District is serving free meals to children in need throughout the summer.
The district started its summer feeding program Thursday and will continue it through July 28.
Children younger than 18 can eat for free, and adults can eat with them for $3.
Danny Dillistone, food services director for Petal School District, said 60 percent of the students enrolled in the district qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year.
"You've got 60 percent of the children that fall into a poverty type situation, and it's great to have this ability to not let those children slip through the cracks," he said. "We're feeding them through the summer."
Last year, the district served more than 58,000 meals.
"Children, we just don't want them to go hungry," Dillistone said. "This is an awesome community service. I feel like the Lord put me here to do this and feed children, so that's what I'm trying to do. We have a wonderful administration that really believes in this program, so we try to service as many children as we can."
Petal's summer feeding program provides meals for the community both in school cafeterias and by delivery through the backyard bus program. It also serves meals for 14 Vacation Bible Schools and groups and camps on field trips.
"We can help the school district out," Dillistone said. "We help the local community out. Everybody just kind of works together, so it's a great community service."
This year, Petal Middle School will serve breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Petal High School will serve breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Petal Upper Elementary is the only location serving dinner, which will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.