North Carolina’s free meal programs keep kids nourished all summer long

Young boy and girl at school lunch table smiling to camera.

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By Good Info News Wire

June 6, 2024

North Carolina’s free meal programs keep kids nourished all summer long. Here’s what you need to know about the programs and who benefits from them.

More than 900,000 students in North Carolina benefit from nutrition-packed meals and snacks provided during the school year through programs like School Breakfast, School Lunch, and After-School Snack Programs. These resources continue during school breaks via Summer Meal Programs, which offer free meals to children and teenagers aged 18 and under.

The N.C. summer meals programs not only facilitate the delivery of healthy food options, but they encourage physical activity and learning opportunities, too. The state’s Summer Meals Program mascot, Ray F. Sun, actively promotes the food, fitness, fun, and farm-to-summer activities across North Carolina through his social media account @Ray4NCKids. The educational enrichment activities can be located by searching for the #NCSummerMeals hashtag on various social media platforms.

Additionally, the program invites leaders to participate in the N.C. Farm to Summer Challenge. This initiative encourages local food sourcing for meal and snack preparation while imparting knowledge about agriculture, nutrition, and local food. Resources for this challenge, along with the sign-up details, are available on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), Office of School Nutrition website.

Administered by the NCDPI and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the N.C. Summer Meals Programs primarily operate in economically distressed areas, aiming to reach the most food-insecure students. The meal sites are strategically located at schools, playgrounds, parks, public housing centers, medical centers, libraries, faith-based facilities, and other accessible spots.

No registration or ID is required to receive these meals. For further information or to get involved as volunteers, sites, or activity providers, individuals and organizations can contact the NCDPI Summer Meals Programs Team at [email protected]. To find meals near you, you can use this online site-finder map. You can also text “Food” to 304-304 for information in English or “COMIDA” to 304-304 for information in Spanish.

A new food assistance program, SUN Bucks, is also being introduced by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) this summer. The program offers a one-time payment of $120 in grocery benefits for each eligible school-aged child to purchase nutritious foods. To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process, visit the SUN Bucks website. Applications must be submitted by August 31, 2024, to get benefits for the 2024 summer period.

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This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.North Carolina’s free meal programs keep kids nourished all summer longNorth Carolina’s free meal programs keep kids nourished all summer long

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by Cardinal & Pine staff.

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