Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — More than 900,000 North Carolina students rely on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year through the breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals programs provided at their schools.

When school is out of session, North Carolina’s Summer Nutrition Programs help fill the gap by providing free meals and snacks to children ages 18 and younger who might otherwise go hungry.

The need for sponsoring agencies and sites for Summer Nutrition Programs is at an all-time high. Schools and community organizations are needed to serve as sponsors for Summer Nutrition Programs this year to help ensure children with limited access to food at home get the nutritious meals they need for optimal growth, development and overall well-being.

Last summer, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) approved 214 community sponsors to help provide reimbursable meals for children. Through these community partnerships, community and school sites served over 9 million meals to children at 3,425 sites across the state.

N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs are administered by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), with federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

NCDPI works with public schools, charter and non-public schools, public and private non-profit organizations, and other community partners to serve as program sponsors. Sponsors are eligible to receive federal reimbursement for all qualifying meals served to children.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt underscored the importance of community partnerships to support students’ nutrition needs during the summer.

“Our goal is to increase the number of community sponsors that can partner with us to help provide reimbursable meals to food-insecure children,” Truitt said. “School and summer meals provide students with essential nutrition needed for growth, development, and learning. Participation in school and Summer Nutrition Programs also provide educational enrichment and support social emotional learning.”

The Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option – an extension of the National School Lunch Program – were established by USDA to ensure economically disadvantaged children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out of session. The core purpose of these programs is to bridge the gap of food insecurity for children eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals. Acceptable sites may be a location where meals are served in a supervised setting and open to all children in the community or one that serves specific children at a summer camp.

Summer Nutrition Programs are typically located in economically distressed areas to serve the most food-insecure, vulnerable students. Meal sites may be located at schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, medical centers, faith-based facilities, libraries, and other locations. Meals served at all sites must be provided at no charge to eligible children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), age, or disability. Registration and ID are not required.

To learn more about N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs and how your organization may become involved in providing summer meals to children in your community, please visit the NCDPI, Summer Nutrition Program website or contact the NCDPI, Summer Nutrition Program team.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

Phone: (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or

Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

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