FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Edgecombe County Public Schools is working to make sure that no children in Edgecombe County go hungry while school is closed this summer by sponsoring the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children. Summer meals will be offered at Carver Elementary, Pattillo, Phillips Middle, Princeville Elementary and West Edgecombe Middle schools starting today. The meals will be offered from Monday through Thursday until Aug 8. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Summer Meals program offers free meals to children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site. More than 5,000 children in Edgecombe County receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, but many of these children do not get enough to eat when school is out.
“For many kids, summertime means food, friends and fun. For families who count on school breakfast and lunch, however, the summer months can be stressful and family food budgets have to be stretched even further,” said Ruth McDowell, child nutrition director for ECPS.
During the summer, kids can lose out on several months of learning and physical activity that they would normally get at school. The SFSP ensures that low-income children continue to grow and learn, even when school is not in session.
The Edgecombe County Board of Education and Superintendent John Farrelly recognize the need for the program in Edgecombe County.
“Many of our children, who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year, do not have access to these meals during the summer, and that’s where we come in, by providing nutritious meals and activities to keep kids nourished and engaged,” said McDowell.
The Summer Food Service Program for Children is a federally funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by a state agency.
Eligible sponsors such as non-profit organizations, schools and local governments serve nutritious meals and snacks free to low-income children during the summer months. Summer programs are located at approved sites that are either in low-income areas or serve a group of children, most of whom are low-income.