Historic Oak View County Park is now one of the locations offering free summer meals to kids in need.
From 11 a.m. to noon, weekdays, from Wednesday, July 20, to Aug. 12, the Wake County park at 4016 Carya Dr. will serve free lunches for all kids ages 18 and under. Meals must be eaten on site, but there is no enrollment needed, cost or requirement to show proof of income.
The summer meal program is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wake County Public School System. It aims to reach out to students who rely on free and reduced lunches during the school year and often go hungry during long breaks. The agriculture department hopes to reach more than 200 million children this summer with free meals.
"Studies show hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process," according to a Wake County press release. "Lack of nutrition over the summer may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins and make children more prone to illness and other health issues."
"Nearly one in seven Wake County residents struggles with hunger," said Regina Petteway, director of Wake County Human Services, in a press release about the program. "For many of these families, providing adequate, nutritious meals for their children is even more difficult during the summer months when school is not in session. We want to remind families that there is still plenty of time to participate in our summer food program."
There are many locations across Wake that offer free meals to students. Some locations are closed and reserved only for children already enrolled in a summer camp, for instance, at the location. Other sites, such as Oak View and the Poe Center, are open to all. There are about a dozen open sites in Wake County. Some locations opened in June when summer vacation started, but others have opened in the last week or two.
As part of the free meals at Oak View, there also will be free programs and activities throughout the week. The park will serve meals through Aug. 12 when other free lunch spots also will wrap up for the summer.
Wake schools' website has a full list of summer meal locations. You also can call 1-866-3HUNGRY or text "FOODNC" to 877-877 to find a location near you.