N.C. Department of Health and Human Services: volunteer to get summer meals to children in need

From the press release from NCDHHS:

RALEIGH – North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Al Delia is encouraging North Carolinians to volunteer their time to help get summer meals to children in need. The federally-funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), administered by DHHS, offers nutritious meals and snacks for children ages 18 and under. More than 350 sites in 50 counties are providing meals, but many are struggling to get children to meal sites and recruit volunteers to serve meals.

“Perhaps the biggest barrier we have to overcome is transportation,” Delia said. “We have more sites than ever before, but we have trouble getting children to the meals, especially in rural areas, and in big towns and cities where parents may not be able to provide their own transportation.”

More than 770,000 children received free or reduced price meals at public schools and military base schools during the last school year. And last summer, the SFSP program provided free meals each day to more than 74,500 children. Another 16,500 were fed through a similar program administered by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Yet, the combined numbers represent only 12 percent of the children who are eligible.

Delia said volunteers and community groups are most needed:

Supervising children during meals.

Assisting with preparation of meals and cleaning up afterwards.

Helping to transport food to sites for preparation.

Helping to get the word out about where program sites are located.

Community groups may also be needed to help with providing transportation to and from meal sites.

“We have the programs in place, but we need people who are willing to spend a few hours providing transportation or helping serve breakfast, lunch or dinner,” Delia said. “In one or two hours, you can make the difference between a child getting a nutritious healthy meal or going home hungry.”

The program has activated a texting/online meals locator to help parents find the closest site. When you enter your address, you will get a return text with the meal sites within a five-mile radius. If none is nearby, an automated message will direct you to the local Department of Social Services.

Children may go to any site to receive free meals. No registration is required and there is no cost to children or families.

To qualify as a Summer Food Program site, a sponsor must either be located in a low-income area where 50 percent or more of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, or it must serve primarily low-income children, at least half of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

To find a Summer Food Service Program site near you, send a text to: FoodNC at 877877 or visit http://nc.nokidhungry.org/


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