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Go Ask Mom

Free Meals: Sites across region offer food, activities for kids who may go without

Posted June 13, 2019 6:24 p.m. EDT

Oak View County Park to offer free summer lunches to kids

The region's 2019 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 August. 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.

"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 locations across the Triangle, 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.

And here are more specific details about two free lunch programs in the Triangle (but, just remember, there are many more) ...

Free lunch at Poe Center in Raleigh

The Poe Center for Health Education, 224 Sunnybrook Rd., in Raleigh, will launch its summer meals program Wednesday, June 19, with a special kickoff event that includes a visit with Muddy the Mudcat. It's open to the public. (Groups with eight or more children should RSVP to Lauren McCallum at l.mccallum@poehealth.org). Also enjoy play at the center's PlayWell Park and take part in other fun activities.

The series runs on Wednesdays through Aug. 7. The Poe Center will offer other activities each week for kids who stop by for the free meal. (Meals must be eaten on site and can't be picked up and eaten elsewhere). Lunch runs from 11 a.m. to noon, Wednesdays. Activities are from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Here's the event schedule:

June 19 – Summer Kick-off Event with special guest Muddy Mudcat and
activities in the GrowWELL Garden.

June 26 – Kids’ Yoga

July 3 – Free books from Raleigh’s Rolling Readers

July 10 – Dental health with special guest Marshal Molar

July 17 – Kids Yoga, Free books from Raleigh’s Rolling Readers

July 24 – TBD

July 31 – Free books from Raleigh’s Rolling Readers

Aug. 7 – TBD

Free lunch at Chapel Hill, Carrboro locations

In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Food For the Summer partners and staff are providing weekday meals and fun at six open sites this summer.

The program will be providing a “mini-camp” experience at meal sites each day with additional enrichment activities for a broader range of kids – including preschoolers, middle schoolers and high schoolers, according to a press release.

Food For the Summer's website has the details.