Health, nutrition and gardening at a young age

Jul 7, 2016

"Bugs on a log" traditionally calls for raisins on top of a celery stalk filled with cream cheese, but in Wareham, it's all about the cranberries.

That was an afternoon snack for the children taking part in the food service program, which has expanded to include a garden for young ones to grow, learn from, and eat from.

The food service program has provided children with meals since June 20, and though it's been around for years, it wasn't officially kicked off this summer until July 7 during the Wareham Free Library's Readin' and Rockin' Dance Party.

Grant money awarded to Wareham by the United States Department of Agriculture has been used to plant a garden that is taken care of by the children. Program director Bethany Gay took the kids into the garden before story time.

“We add items that kids can grow and taste,” said program director Marsha Hickey.

They went around touching the plants and learning about them. Among many things they've done with the plants growing in the garden, they've made ice cubes with mint leaves from their garden and put them in lemonade, and they've used peppermint leaves in soap to wash their hands.

The kick off occurred the day after Food Service Director Robert Sheehan announced additional funding in providing free breakfasts and lunches to students for the next four years.

Sheehan, who's worked in the private food industry for 25 years, said he finds his work in the school system more rewarding.

He's been the Food Service Director of Wareham Public Schools for two years and said the program has been running for at least four years.

For Sheehan, the goal is to teach children about nutrition, healthy eating, and exercise. These, he said, will make kids successful students.

He hopes to carry this educational programming into the school year.

The same program that provides breakfast and lunches for free during the school year, hosts free lunches at the library from Monday to Friday.

“It's good to know there's food for the kids,” said Business Manager Michael MacMillan, who was present at the kick-off.

The program will continue until the Aug. 19 and there are five sites around town where meals will be distributed.

Breakfast is served at Depot Crossing on 125 Minot Ave. and the Woods of Wareham on 36 Swifts Beach Road from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Lunch is served between noon and 1 p.m. at the Band Shell on 1 Union St., The Gleason Family YMCA on 33 Charge Pond Road, the Wareham Free Library on 59 Marion Road, the Woods of Wareham and Depot Crossing.