Summer feeding programs begin
Last year, the Rowan-Salisbury School System Child Nutrition Services department fed children more than 56,000 meals over the summer. This year, they’re projected to serve up to 70,000.
Nearly 65 percent of Rowan-Salisbury students receive free and reduced-priced meals at school. When school isn’t in session, parents have the added financial responsibility of providing those meals without any added assistance.
The summer food service program helps “bridge the gap so students receive meals,” said Meredith Honeycutt, Child Nutrition Services’ administrative assistant. “There’s a critical need to feed these children.”
“It helps the parents get these kids a nutritious meal,” she said.
The program is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“It’s all federal money,” Honeycutt added.
Any child between the ages of 3 and 18 can receive a meal free of charge at any of the nearly 70 sites set up throughout the county. Approximately 20 of those sites are new this year.
Children do not need to prove they are in need, but they must eat the meal on site.
There will be no meal service Monday, June 30, through Friday, July 4.
Breakfast is served any time between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. at participating sites, while lunch will be served between 10:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.
All the meals are assembled and prepared at Carson High School, Honeycutt said. The meals are prepared on a weekly cycle. Breakfasts include various cereals, muffins, juice and milk. Lunches include sandwiches and fruits or vegetables.
Each year, the Child Nutrition Department goes out to bid on rental trucks, and then rents several to distribute the meals. The trucks follow a route and drop the meals off at their different sites.
“Once every child has a meal and the paperwork is taken care of, the truck has somewhere else to go,” Honeycutt said.
Each site must “be in a geographical area in the county where the schools in the area are over 50 percent free and reduced,” she added.
They must all provide some sort of shelter, trash receptacles and hand washing stations or hand sanitizer.
A volunteer site coordinator runs each site.
“We literally just provide the meals. It takes someone in the community to open these sites,” Honeycutt said.
Sites can be found at parks, schools, churches, mobile home parks and apartment complexes.
Oftentimes, the sponsor will also provide games or activities for the children to do as well.
Feeding sites can either be open or closed. Closed sites only feed children enrolled in a program, such as a summer camp, at that particular site. Open sites, however, give a free meal to any child.
Honeycutt said the Child Nutrition department has tried to raise awareness through outreach by school counselors, yet every year they find people who didn’t know the program exists.
For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, questions and time of service at participating locations, contact Honeycutt at 704-630-6047.