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Summer meal program provides food to kids in need

Posted June 17, 2015

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— The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s Summer Meals Program will provide at least 200,000 meals to 6,000 children through 135 sites this summer.

Free and reduced lunch programs serve thousands of children in the Raleigh area during the school year. During the summer months, it can be a challenge for families as cafeterias close for the summer break.

“Last year, we distributed about 53.6 million pounds of food,” said Jennifer Caslin of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. “This year in just a couple of weeks our fiscal year will end and we're going to exceed that. And of course, summer meal programs like this one help a lot, too.”

The Kids Summer Meal Program—also known as the Summer Food Service Program—provides a location for children to receive free meals and enrichment activities, such as exercise and reading.

“The Kids Summer Meals Program provides a vital resource to thousands of kids each summer who may not have enough food to eat at home,” said Tyler Weidig, Summer Food Services Program supervisor for the food bank. “Without this program, children would be hungry and families would be forced to make tough budget decisions.”

This year they're trying an additional approach to help families who may not be able to attend the programs—vouchers for food boxes.

“We're able to help out more this year than we have in the past,” Caslin said.

The food bank will hold its annual Stop Summer Hunger campaign through July 31 with the goal of providing 3.2 million meals to children and families. Visit the organization’s website for more information.

The Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education in Raleigh is holding a program, provided by Summer Nutrition Services and the Wake County Public School system, to offer children free lunches each Wednesday through August 5. The July 8 session will feature a football camp with the Carolina Panthers, held at Enloe high school.

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