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Rowan-Salisbury Summer Meals Program serves more than 10,000 in July

SALISBURY — The Summer Meals Program served more than 10,000 meals to Rowan County children during the month of July.

According to Meredith Honeycutt with the school nutrition office, staff members gave out nearly 15,000 breakfasts and more than 25,000 lunches. The total count for the month is 40,904.

The Summer Meals Program operated for 19 days in July.

The program fed a total of 28,603 meals in 13 days of operation in June. July’s numbers bring the summer total so far t0 69,507 meals.

The July numbers are slightly lower than those for July 2017, when 45,785 meals were distributed. June’s numbers, too, were lower than 2017’s 29,187 meals.

“Even though RSS School Nutrition shows a decrease in the numbers of meals served for July 2018 compared to July 2017, I still personally feel that our program is very strong, cutting-edge and innovative,” Honeycutt said.

Sites often hand out free books to students or partner with Rowan Public Library’s Stories to Go bookmobile.

“We’re here to feed a child’s stomach and their minds,” Honeycutt said.

The Summer Meals Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provides free meals to any child ages 3 and 18. Brick-and-mortar sites are scattered around the county, and there are several mobile sites for rural areas — including two modified school buses with diner-counter seating.

For many students, the meals are the only ones they’ll eat over the course of summer break. More than 28 percent of Rowan County children live in poverty, according to child advocacy organization N.C. Child, and Rowan-Salisbury School Nutrition estimates that more than 64 percent of local students receive free or reduced-price lunch. It’s a fact that’s prompted several schools to apply — and qualify for — universal breakfast and lunch.

Keeping bellies full and being a caring presence during the summer is a mission staff takes seriously.

“Our RSS School Nutrition kitchen employees and route drivers have bought into the program and take great pride in their jobs serving the same students over the summer months they  serve during the school year,” Honeycutt said.

The Summer Meals Program runs weekdays through Aug. 16. Visit www.rssed.org for more information.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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