Summer programs provide meals, encourage reading

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Socorro school children are being given a nutrition boost this summer from the Summer Food Service Program, announced recently by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Since 2010, 29 sites have been added statewide, including an additional three new sites in Socorro for 2014. Last year, the program served 91,000 more breakfasts than in 2010, and 23,000 more lunches. This summer statewide sponsoring organizations are expecting to serve more than 2.1 million meals across New Mexico.

In a telephone interview, Martinez told the Chieftain that she is committed to expanding the program.

"While students are eager for a summer break, many will face the unacceptable uncertainty of missing meals throughout the day when school is closed," Martinez said. "We have continued to expand this important program statewide, so that more New Mexico children have access to the high-quality and nutritious meals they need and deserve, even while school is not in session."

The summer food program begins on June 2, and is funded nationally by the USDA and operated by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department. The meals are free and no registration is required.

The Summer Food Service Program sites are:

• B Street Park, 205 B St. (lunch)

• Bagley Residence, 607 Bagley (lunch)

• Granada Park, Granada St. (lunch)

• Macey Center Park (lunch)

• Magdalena Municipal Schools (breakfast/lunch)

• Parkview Elementary School (breakfast/lunch)

• San Antonio Elementary School (lunch)

• Sarracino Middle School (breakfast/lunch)

• Sedillo Park Tennis Courts (lunch)

• Socorro High School (breakfast/lunch)

• Terra Bonita Residence, 502 Terra Bonita (lunch)

• West Park, 105 West Pl. (lunch)

• Youth Center, Ake St. (breakfast/lunch)

• Zimmerly Elementary Cafeteria (breakfast/lunch)

In addition, Martinez is encouraging kids to continue reading through the summer.

"During the summertime kids get excited about having time off and playing soccer and basketball and doing all that those fun things but they often don't read in the summer," Martinez said. "What we are hoping for is that during the summer, if they continue to read and log their books, they can qualify to win some amazing prizes."

The governor's "New Mexico True" Summer Reading Challenge is open to all New Mexico elementary school children, ages 5 through 12.

The "New Mexico True" brochure and reading log are being distributed to students at public schools throughout the state. It is also available at all local libraries or can be downloaded and printed from the Public Education Department's website. Entries must be postmarked by July 31, 2014.

All readers who submit a completed reading log with information regarding the six books they read will receive a "New Mexico True" bookmark and a certificate recognizing their accomplishment. Readers who submit their completed reading log with information regarding the 12 books they read, as well as a short essay explaining "Why I Love New Mexico," will receive a "New Mexico True" bookmark, a certificate recognizing their accomplishment, and have their name entered in the random drawing to receive one of the following grand prizes:

• All-expenses paid family vacation to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla. (one reader)

• All-inclusive family (of four) vacation to Red River, which includes overnight accommodations (for two nights), dinner (for two nights) and ski passes (for two days) (one reader)

• Real-life fossil digging adventure in Socorro with an overnight stay and boat ride in nearby Elephant Butte (one reader)

• Hot-air balloon ride with Governor Martinez and a family four-pack of admission tickets to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum (two readers)

• A behind the scenes tour and a family four-pack of admission tickets to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History (two readers)

• An adventure as a Junior Zookeeper for a day at the ABQ BioPark Zoo (four readers)

• Meet a Lobo head basketball coach, free tickets to a Lobo basketball game, take part in a center-court ceremony at The Pit, and receive an autographed Lobo basketball (three readers)

• Meet an Aggie head basketball coach, free tickets to an Aggie basketball game, take part in a center-court ceremony at The Pan-Am Center, and receive an autographed Aggie basketball (three readers)

• A free admission pass for 16 museums and monuments across the state (200 readers).