Local News

Programs offer meals for children during summer vacation

Posted June 24, 2009 5:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina is No. 2 in U.S. for children under the age of 5 who are not getting enough food, according to a report released last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To help change that, the Boys and Girls Club of Eastern North Carolina started a feeding program this summer.

“Sometimes it may have been a soda and a candy bar, that might have been their lunch that day because that is all the parents could afford at the time,” said Donyell Jones, club director.

Some of the children taking part in this year's program have gone without adequate nutrition for two summers. That is because the club program had been without a sponsor until the USDA stepped in to help.

Children pay a nominal fee to belong to the club, but the meals are free. Each child gets breakfast daily and lunch of a sandwich, some chocolate milk, vegetables and a piece of fresh fruit.

For the first time ever, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is also sponsoring a summer feeding program at 15 locations.

“What happens is we have more kids eating,” said Earline Middleton, the food bank's vice president of programs.

Middleton said the program is a direct result of the struggling economy and the increasing need for assistance.

“I had two boys and I know they ate a lot. So in the summer time, this is a way we can help families, as well as give a nutritious meal for the kids,” Middleton said.

Parents and program directors say the food program helps in more ways that one.

“To see just like the relief off their face, knowing that my child will be fed each and every day for the whole summer definitely is a benefit,” Jones said.

To find the nearest summer feeding program, go to the Nutrition Services Branch Web site or call 1-800-662-7030.