Date: February 8, 2012
Right here in North Carolina, nearly one of every four households is not getting enough food according to Food Hardship in America - 2010 study, but a renewed push is under way to provide kids with summer meals through federally funded programs.
According to the study, of all states, North Carolina had the 6th highest rate of food hardship, meaning 23.5 percent of households surveyed said they did not have money to buy needed food. During the summer when school is out, life gets even tougher for some kids because they are unable to receive free school lunches. To help ease their pain, No Kid Hungry North Carolina, a public-private partnership, is working to connect more eligible low-income children to federally funded food and nutrition programs like the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), administered by the N.C. Division of Public Health.
Ironically, although federal funding is available to feed children in the summer, participation in the Summer Food program and a similar one administered by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction last summer attracted only 12 percent of the children in our state who are eligible for meals, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. So more community organizations are being asked to join the fight against hunger by being either sponsors or feeding sites.
Alice Lenihan, head of the N.C. Division of Public Health's Nutrition Services Branch, said in a statement that the program provides sponsors with full federal reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for each meal they serve, so there is no reason that children should go hungry during the summer.
To qualify, a site 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. Most sites can provide up two meals a day through the program.
Participating sponsors will receive free training during March. Summer food service applications should be submitted by May 15. More information is available at www.nutritionnc.com/snp/sfsp.htm. For the training schedule or to find out how to apply to be a sponsor, contact the N.C. Division of Public Health's Special Nutrition Programs office at (919) 707-5799.