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School’s out, summer meal programs are in; staff bring more than lunch to students

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Students across the Piedmont are starting to enjoy their first few days of summer break. While some are enjoying the break from class, others are facing a challenge of missing the meals they depend on from school lunches.

Around 30,000 students are on free or reduced lunch in Guilford County. Last summer, the nutrition staff served more than 230,000 meals to students, but that is only a fraction of the number of meals students across the district likely need.

That's why the district is trying to continuously add to their Summer Meals program. It adds around ten new partnerships with different organizations in the community every year to help add sites children can go to for the meals. There are more than 20 schools the district also opens for lunch and breakfast for students.

“It’s really built for low-income areas, however, we know city is city, children are children, hunger is hunger, and it can happen anywhere,” Wanda Barber said. Barber is the Operations Supervisor for Schools Nutrition for Guilford County Schools.

Another way the district is trying to help combat that is by adding a new food truck that can help deliver around 500 meals to students. The district has bad some mobile meals before, but the food truck has better heating and cooling options for the meals and more storage. There are also three school buses that students can get on in High Point to enjoy a lunch. Two more ways to make sure students have access to a nutritious meal, no matter where they live.

“We really don’t want to look at status. We just want our children to have a good successful summer with good nutritious meals,” Barber said.

But it's not just the meals these students get. It's an important connection too.

Nutrition staff like Perry Luster, Diane Daniels and Wanda McNeill say their job is more than making sure these kids get a nutritious meal. It's about being a role model, a friend and even just listening to these students when they need it.

“I’ll talk to the boys, and they need another male role model outside of their dads, and I try to be that for them,” Luster said.

“I’m a people person with a good heart. You never know when you’re going through something, the kids are going through something. And you talk to them and brighten their day and when you brighten their day up it makes my day go really well,” Daniels said.

McNeill said, “It actually feels good because I love my students and I feel like they love us. And they’re excited about having Frankie but the most important thing is we really miss going inside and talking to our kids because we never know what they’re going through."

Guilford County Schools starts its summer feeding program on June 13 at 9 a.m. The program runs Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. and lunch is served from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m.

Randolph County Schools will have meals available for all children from June 17 through July 5. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served from 11 p.m. until 11:45 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Randleman Elementary School, 100 Swaim Street, Randleman
  • Ramseur Elementary School, 6755 Jordan Road, Ramseur
  • Southmont Elementary School, 2497 Southmont School Road, Asheboro
  • Trinity Elementary School, 5457 Braxton Craven Road, Trinity

Davidson County Schools will have on-site breakfast and lunch served Monday through Thursday from July 8 through July 31. The district is still finalizing the on-site locations for meals.

Alamance Burlington Schools also begins some of its summer feeding programs starting on June 17. The locations and dates vary throughout the district.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has mobile summer meals from June 17 through Aug. 9.

You can text "FoodNC" to 877-877 to get information on a site near you.

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