When the school year ends, millions of children who regularly rely on free or reduced-cost meals are at risk of going hungry. Summer meal programs get help from organizations like ours to help spread the word about free, nutritious meals to families who need them. This year, SC Thrive was thrilled to team up with Share Our Strength through a No Kid Hungry national campaign to provide outreach about summer meal programs. Take a look at some of the amazing work these feeding sites are doing.
SC Thrive spread the word about free summer meals with ads, events, and a text campaign so that people knew that free summer meals were available at locations across South Carolina. We visited five summer feeding locations where we discussed the importance of healthy meals, how to find free summer meal sites, and how to apply for SNAP and other benefits through SC Thrive.
During our visit to Freetown in the Upstate, we saw their garden where our own Joan Pachuta wasted no time getting her hands dirty, clearing away weeds to start growing healthy vegetables for the children in the community. We conducted several interviews during our visits. Ms. Shirley Young from Agape Family Life Center shared, “The summer feeding program is wonderful; the children enjoy it and receive healthy nutritious meals. Agape is also thankful that The Lowcountry Food Bank provides food to them.” While sharing the importance of healthy food with the children, we also played trivia games, distributed toys, and served a meal.
While at Bradley Elementary School in Columbia, we heard talks of all the things the Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann and Richland School District One would like to implement or continue doing to serve the children in our state better regarding food. They are introducing something new called Spiceology, which will allow the students to flavor their food with no salt products. The labels on the seasoning look like the periodic table; this element made it a little fun. Keith Wilder, the school supervisor of nutrition, said he “most enjoys serving and teaching the children what healthy meals look like so they can make better choices as they get older and are making their own meal selections. [The school’s] goal is to feed the children as if they may not be receiving the healthy nutritious food they need on a regular basis.” At Antioch Resource Center in Williamsburg, Hazeline Evans shared how she was able to use this program to feed more than just the children in her community. She used any extra food to provide meals to seniors experiencing food insecurity.
How Can I Help
Even though there are many summer meal programs, they can be hard to find and many families don’t know these resources are available. A great way to help is by sharing information about how and where your community can get free meals during the summer. If you are interested in helping feed your community, you can reach out to the SC Department of Education to become a future summer feeding site HERE.
Applying for SNAP and Other Resources
SC Thrive is here to help you connect to resources you may need. If you or someone you know needs help navigating available resources like SNAP, Healthy Connections Medicaid, and more, call our Contact Center at 800.726.8774. SC Thrive partners with organizations that provide direct services to clients across the state. Learn how you can become a SNAP Partner HERE.