“Kids eat free this summer,” I read on a billboard coming into the city.
According to a 2020 report from the Food Research & Action Center, Afterschool Nutrition Programs provide funding to serve suppers and snacks to children, alongside educational and enrichment programming, helping to reduce childhood hunger in low-income communities and support the establishment and sustainability of afterschool programs.
Some key findings from October 2019:
• More than 21 million children participated in the program.
• More than 1.4 million children participated in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs on an average day.
• Participation in afterschool suppers increased by more than 86,900 participants compared to October 2018.
• About six children received an afterschool supper for every 100 low-income children who participated in the National School Lunch Program during the same month.
It seems the number of hours children are in school offer relief to a more basic need, reminding me of my childhood. The only starving people of which I was aware lived in Africa, according to my momma, to where I begged her to mail my cold broccoli and canned asparagus tips remaining in front of me until I ate them — often lingering into the wee hours of the morning.
Fortunately, starvation is something I have yet to know.
And in terms of the population, according to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s website, 756,320 people face hunger across the 34-county service area to which it provided more than 76 million meals to families and individuals in 2020.
The Halifax County profile shows 25% or 13,030 people are food insecure, of which 4,190 are children under 18. In 2019-2020, out of the 92 million pounds of food distributed by the food bank, 1,522,068 were distributed in Halifax County.
In Northampton County, the Food Bank of the Albemarle’s website reads, in 2019, out of 19,946 people, 3,420 food insecure individuals live there with 1,160 being children. Additional clients include families, veterans, students, senior citizens, single parents, the unemployed and the underemployed.
“Hunger can affect anyone,” it reads. “At the Food Bank of the Albemarle, we believe the prevalence of hunger in our community is unacceptable.”
And so action was taken, as according to the data, the Food Bank of the Albemarle distributed 6,747,946 million pounds of food with the help of 14,601 volunteer hours.
Other sources of food include the Halifax County Schools and the Roanoke Rapids Schools Graded District.
Halifax County Schools has posted: Kids 18 and under eat free breakfast and lunch Mondays and Wednesdays through Aug. 7, with no meals being served on June 29 and July 1, at the following locations:
• Aurelian Springs Institute of Global Learning: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
• Everetts Elementary STEM Academy: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
• Hollister Elementary Leadership Academy: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
• Inborden Elementary STEAM Academy: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
• Scotland Neck Leadership Academy: 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
• Book your Stay, Enfield: 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
• Good News Church of God, Scotland Neck: 11:30 a.m. to noon
• Jireh Church, Enfield, 11:05 to 11:20 a.m.
The district is also offering meals to be delivered. For more information, call 252-583-1309.
The RRGSD Summer Grab & Go Lunch Service runs through July 29, with free meals available 11 a.m. to noon, Monday-Thursday, at Belmont Elementary for anyone 18 and under.
To the service of offering food to the community, I have offered zero volunteer hours. To those who constantly pitch in — thank you for caring so kindly for others.
Food is available; and that is all.
News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-410-7058.