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Jessica Burroughs's picture

1 out of every 5 children in North Carolina struggles with hunger. Schools are key to providing healthy free or reduced price breakfast and lunch to these children; for some students, school meals are the only nutritious meals they will eat that day. One child even shared with his teacher how much he looks forward to Mondays so that he can eat a meal again.  

But what happens during the summer to this child— and to the nearly one million other North Carolina students— who rely on free or reduced-price meals to keep them nourished and focused on learning during the school day? What do these children eat during the long summer months?


 Children who lack access to nutritious food are more likely to be sick, hyperactive, undernourished, overweight, and less prepared to start learning again the next school year. So what can be done to ensure these children re-enter school after the summer nourished, ready, & prepared to learn?

 Summer meal sites are designed to fill this gap while also offering fun enrichment programs and safe childcare, but, unfortunately, only 12% of children eligible for free or reduced price meals during the school year access these free meals during the summer.  Why is this the case? According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the top 2 reasons that children do not participate are that 1) they do not know that the program exists; and/or 2) there is not a feeding site close enough for them to access.

This is where you, and the network of 47,000 other MomsRising members across North Carolina, come in. You can make a difference! You can address both of these barriers with a few simple steps, easily taken by you on your computer— please read on to find out how.

 How to Spread the Word about the Summer Feeding Program

 There are three ways to find a free meal site:

  1. Text SUMMER MEALS to 97779

  2. Call toll-free 1.866.3Hungry

  3. Visit

 Help spread the word by sharing this information with others! You can make a difference by re-posting this blog to social media and sharing it with email lists or Facebook groups at your children’s schools, libraries, community centers, and faith-based organizations.

 You can also order FREE posters and palm cards to distribute in your community. Click here to order posters and palm cards to be shipped to you. Please bring these resources to your local school or library and ask the staff to distribute them. And be sure to share that all children 18 and under are eligible, and that no ID or registration is required. As an added bonus, most summer meal sites provide educational, enrichment, or recreational activities that keep kids learning, active, safe, AND fed when school is not in session.

 How to Improve Access to Summer Feeding Sites

Many families do not live close enough to a feeding site to walk, and do not have transportation to a more distant site. Many groups, organizations, and individuals have mobilized to become summer feeding sites in order to overcome this obstacle. Innovative and effective summer feeding sites include schools, faith-based organizations, public parks, summer camps, summer enrichment programs, housing communities, libraries, farmer’s markets, museums, and even peoples’ houses in low-income communities.  

Why might a group want to become a summer feeding site? Because it’s an opportunity to provide free, nutritious meals at very little cost. It’s a great way to strengthen already-existing youth programs, increase awareness about summer programs at churches/schools/organizations, and help children stay healthy and prepared for the next school year! If you are interested in exploring how to become a feeding site, click here.  

Help us make sure that information about where to find a summer feeding site gets into the hands of families who need it. And, please help spread the word about how to become a summer feeding site in order to increase access to summer meals for more children.

We are more powerful together.  Let’s join forces and raise the number of North Carolina children who have nutritious food to eat this summer, ensuring that they will be healthy and ready to learn in August!   

P.S.  The U.S. Congress will be making decisions about policy and funding around the Summer Feeding Programs in the coming months. We want to make sure the topic of summer hunger is addressed! Please sign our letter: 

Thank you! 

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