RSS workers met by inconsistent-sized groups for first round of summer meals

Published 12:02 am Friday, June 4, 2021

CHINA GROVE – Rowan-Salisbury Schools on Thursday delivered the first summer meals to a somewhat inconsistent crowd.

One of the district’s meal trucks making the rounds in the South Rowan area had more kids than it expected get meals at the first stop and none at its last.

Barbara Jordan, child nutrition manager at Knox Middle School, said she has been helping with summer meals for 15 years, but this was a new experience for her. In the past, she was usually on routes that would take food to set locations such as summer camps, but this year she went into neighborhoods where RSS students live to offer meals.

Jordan said she expects more kids will get the meals as the summer goes on. Workers also spoke to people in visited neighborhoods to let residents know meals would be there at the same time Monday through Friday.

“Once they get to know us, they’ll run up to the truck because they know they’re going to get a nice meal,” Jordan said.

School Nutrition Supervisor Janice Peacock was out with staff as they canvassed a neighborhood off U.S. 29. The group did not find any kids to feed, but they did talk to some people about letting neighbors know and identified homes which may have children.

It was not all slim pickings. Three kids got meals at a Rowan County Housing Authority neighborhood the stop before the U.S. 29 neighborhood. Houses directly across the street visited by the truck that morning had 14 kids that took meals instead of an anticipated 10.

Peacock said her role in the program is getting kitchens ready at schools and getting sites ready to operate for the program. There are both physical and mobile sites. Students can get meals at many of the local YMCA locations, but the mobile sites are neighborhoods where trucks and buses pull up with food.

Peacock said the program works with staff and community organizations like churches to network and identify places with the most need.

“It’s just a huge network of people that are all fighting for the same cause of feeding people,” Peacock said, adding this time of year is a lot of work but getting to come out and see the kids is a joy.

The program is open to any child ages 3 through 18. Participants have to be at the site when the meals arrive. The times are the same every day and there are more than two dozen mobile sites. School Nutrition Director Lisa Altmann said the program is intended to reach the most vulnerable students, and sites are chosen according to need.

If you have questions, contact Meredith Honeycutt at 704-630-6047 or visit rssed.org/about/public-information/district-news and look for the announcement about summer meal sites for a full list of the many locations.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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