Summer Nutrition Programs fulfill a critical need in providing nourishment and educational enrichment to children when school is out. Fifteen Summer Nutrition Programs in North Carolina were recently recognized with one of three state-level awards for going above and beyond to serve children.
During the school year, many students rely on the nutritious meals served through the School Breakfast Program, School Lunch Program, and Afterschool Meals Program. But hunger doesn’t take a summer break. N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs, administered by NCDPI’s School Nutrition Services with federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), serve nutritious meals to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas (where 50 percent or more of the students qualify for no-cost or reduced-price school meals). These programs may operate in schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, faith-based facilities, and other sites where students gather during the summer months. Meals are served to eligible children at no cost, and registration is not required.
Last summer, the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs served more than 5.2 million meals to children and teens at nearly 3,000 locations across the state.
“It takes school and community partners working together to address childhood hunger. The sponsors and sites honored with these awards recognize the crucial need they fill and have truly gone above and beyond to ensure children are well-nourished, ready-to-learn and on the path to success,” said Cynthia Ervin, manager of Summer Nutrition Programs with NCDPI.
School Nutrition Services developed three state-level awards to recognize Summer Food Service Programs and Summer Seamless Option School Food Authorities and program sponsors in our state that are implementing innovative and creative changes to expand their Summer Nutrition Programs:
- The Rising Star Award recognizes superior first-year N.C. Summer Nutrition Program sponsors that include a menu that promotes a healthy lifestyle and sustainable participation or partnerships. They provide fresh, locally produced menu items, at least one hot meal per week, whole fruit three times per week, water at no cost, and only low-fat or fat-free dairy products. They do not offer any sweet grain treats, such as desserts, but instead focus on and promote healthy choices.
Rising Star Award recipients for 2018 include Baptist Grove Church (Raleigh, Wake County), Carolinas HealthCare System University (Charlotte, Mecklenburg County), and GrowthQuest (Matthews, Mecklenburg County). 519 Church (Apex, Wake County) received an Honorable Mention.
- The Going the Distance in Innovation Award recognizes returning Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option sponsors in North Carolina that implement innovative concepts and marketing strategies in their summer programs to increase participation.
Going the Distance in Innovation Award recipients for 2018 include Alamance-Burlington Schools, Bertie County Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church (Cary, Wake County), Martin County Schools, and New Hanover County Schools. Washington Outreach Ministry (Shelby, Cleveland County) received an Honorable Mention.
- The Superior Site Award recognizes a N.C. Summer Nutrition Program sponsor or site for going above and beyond to gain and maintain participation from the local children and community.
Superior Site Award recipients for 2018 include Adelphia CDC (Cove City, Craven County) in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Carolinas HealthCare System University (Charlotte, Mecklenburg County), Fairview Community Garden in partnership with Orange County Schools, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church (Cary, Wake County), Hillcrest in partnership with New Hanover County Schools, The SPOT (Wilson, Wilson County), Wake County Human Services in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Whiteville High School in partnership with Whiteville City Schools, and Hillcrest Apartments in partnership with the YMCA of Western North Carolina and Asheville City Schools.
All SFAs and sponsors are encouraged to consider applying to the North Carolina awards as applicable. Sponsors may be self-nominated or nominated by a third party such as a community partner.
Additional information regarding the state-level awards and N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs can be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition Services website. Citizens and organizations interested in getting involved as a sponsor, site, activity provider or volunteer should contact NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin.