Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Throughout the school year, sometimes the only meal a child gets during the day is served during school hours. When summer rolls around, that child may not have access to nutritious meals, which is a problem Macon Program for Progress hopes to address again this summer with the Summer Food Service Program.
The Summer Food Service Program is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program administered in N.C. through the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The program strives to make nutritious meals accessible to children under the age of 18 in communities of need. Macon Program for Progress has been a program sponsor in Macon County since 2010.
“This program is important because we know that during the school year many of our children depend on meals provided at school for the source of their nutrition,” said Chuck Sutton, executive director of Macon Program for Progress. “Just because school lets out for the summer does not mean the need for a nutritious meal goes away for these, or any, kid.”
MPP sponsors more than a dozen food sites in Macon County with distribution dates beginning June 13 and running until August 19. Depending on the food sites, either breakfast, lunch, or supper are provided for children in the community at no charge.
Macon County has more than 50 percent of its school aged children that qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“By that fact alone, all children in Macon County under the age of 18 qualify for meals in the Summer Food Service Program under USDA program rules,” said Sutton. “All a child has to do is show up at one of the open sites at the appointed time and he or she will be provided a nutritious meal.”
MPP’s summer food program provided around 27,000 meals last summer.
“This was tremendous for the kids’ sake,” said Sutton. “MPP takes a lead in this effort but the program could not operate without the dedicated volunteers who serve the program. Last summer we had 135 volunteers who helped make and serve the meals. Our rural area does not work on the model of having a kitchen in one site and all of the children come to the kitchen to pick up a meal. Transportation in our mountain communities is a barrier to this model of operation. The volunteers make it possible for the meals to be prepared and then transported to where the children are. Our volunteers have made this model a great success in the past few years and we can’t thank them enough for their efforts.”
For more information about the program or for a food site near you, contact MPP at (828)524-4473.