North Carolina public school students who rely on federally-funded School Nutrition Programs during the school year can now “Meet Up to Eat Up” thanks to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Services’ Summer Nutrition Programs.
Summer Nutrition Program sites are up and running across the state to help bridge the school meals gap until the start of school in the fall. Last year, nearly one million low-income North Carolina students received meals during the school year, but less than 20 percent of those students received meals or snacks at approved summer meal sites in their neighborhoods.
“Child hunger is a statewide issue,” said NCDPI School Nutrition Services Section Chief Lynn Harvey. “North Carolina is fortunate to have a strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that enables us to provide Summer Nutrition Program meal sites for children in all areas of our state.”
NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin agreed with Harvey adding, “By supporting programs that provide balanced meals throughout the summer, we are helping to keep North Carolina’s children on the path to success. Proper nutrition promotes optimal growth and development in children and therefore plays an important role in improving education outcomes.”
Summer Nutrition Programs are administered by NCDPI School Nutrition Services with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Summer Nutrition Programs serve nutritious meals to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas (where 50 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced price school meals). The program 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.
The state’s Summer Nutrition Programs span nearly every county. Currently, 174 sponsors have been approved to offer summer meals at 3,221 sites with additional sites added daily.
In stressing the importance of Summer Nutrition programs for children, Harvey said, “Too many families across North Carolina are struggling, and we can’t have children going hungry in the summer when programs like these are available. Making families aware of available sites for summer meals is vital to keeping kids well-nourished, healthy and ready-to-learn.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services provides the Summer Nutrition Programs Site Locator Map, which allows families to identify the nearest site for summer meals, including information about locations, meal types, times and driving directions. Families also can call 1-866-348-6479 for English or 1-877-842-6273 for Spanish to access this information.
Additionally, No Kid Hungry NC, a Summer Nutrition Program partner, is sponsoring a text message resource. Mobile phone users may text “FoodNC” to 877-877 and receive the most up-to-date site location information. (Standard text messaging rates apply.) On social media, families can follow #NCSummerMeals for updates.
Citizens and organizations interested in more information about getting involved as a site, activity provider or volunteer should contact NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin.
USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website.