Free Meals: Sites across region offer food, activities for kids who may go without
Posted June 18
The region's summer lunch programs are ramping up, offering both free meals and activities for kids, who may otherwise go hungry.
The meals are offered to kids and teens ages 18 and under at different locations through Aug. 25. You don't need to fill out an application or bring proof of income to receive a meal. Kids can just show up.
The program is intended for kids in low-income areas who may get a free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch at school. About 36 percent of students in Wake County are eligible for those free or reduced-price meals.
"Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process, health and well-being of the child," according to Wake County Human Services. "Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins again and make children more prone to illness and other health issues."
To find a location near you, go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Rocks page; call 1-866-3HUNGRY or text "FOODNC" to 877-877. Meal sites change during the summer, according to Wake County's summer meals page, so be sure to check back.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the program, which is administered in North Carolina by the N.C. Department of Instruction.
A couple of Wake County's summer meal sites have special activities planned.
The Poe Center for Health Education, 224 Sunnybrook Rd., in Raleigh, will launch its summer meals program with a special event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday. It's open to the public. (Groups with eight or more children should RSVP to Lauren McCallum at 919-819-6295 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Enjoy play at the center's PlayWell Park and take part in other fun activities. Through Aug. 9, the center will offer other activities for kids who stop by for the free meal. (Meals must be eaten on site and can't be picked up and eaten elsewhere).
Historic Oak View County Park, 4016 Carya Dr., Raleigh, also will again serve as a free summer meal site starting this week. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to noon, weekdays. Again, there's no registration or proof of income required. Kids 18 and under can just show up, but they will need to eat the meal on site, not pick it up and take it with them.
Oak View also will offer free children's activities as part of the lunch program. Here's the weekly schedule:
Monday: Free play
Tuesday: A visit from Wake County Public Libraries
Wednesday: Oak View activity
Thursday: A visit from Wake County libraries
Friday: Poe Center activity