LAURINBURG — To help provide Scotland County children with nutritious meals during the summer, Restoring Hope Center and Scotland County Schools have reopened feeding sites throughout the county this week.
The annual Summer Meals Program began on Monday to provide children under the age of 18 a free breakfast and/or lunch until Aug. 17
The program is in its 11th year, serving more than 297,000 meals in that time period. The effort served more than 23,000 meals last summer. There are no requirements for children to participate.
“When school is out so are the meals,” said Faye Coates, executive director of Restoring Hope. “We’re addressing the students so that any child that needs food has it available for them.”
The program is sponsored by Scotland County Child Nutrition Services and Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina. There are also sponsors who donate to the program ranging from local businesses and organizations to larger companies.
“It’s a beautiful picture of how the community works together,” Coates said. “I’m very proud of Scotland County and the citizens of this community because they show that they care.”
This year, there are 27 participating sites throughout the county.
“One of the things that is so amazing about the Scotland Summer Meals program is that it’s not one church, it’s not one organization, it’s not one business but it’s truly the entirety of our community coming together,” said Sharon Quick, field coordinator for the program. “Its just people coming together with a heart for the children of the community.”
Three of the locations are served by “Wheelie,”a transformed school bus. This is the second year that the mobile cafeteria is traveling to spots that are distant from other feeding sites. The bus was retrofitted to fit around 25 to 30 children and also offers free books.
The bus is the brainchild of Anita Starling, associate director of child nutrition for Scotland County. Starling saw something similar at a conference and decided that it would work well in the county.
Food and thought
The meals include an entree, milk and sides of fruit and vegetables. Entrees include, Salisbury steak, chicken Alfredo, Thai chicken, and favorites such as nachos and cheese and chicken nuggets.
According to Bliss Jones, the supervisor for child nutrition for Scotland County, the meals are regulated by the FDA and similar to what is served during the school year.
“Every day we see kids who come to school hungry,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that they have a hot meal during the summer.”
The meals are prepared at Scotland High School and sent to the sites. The school has a machine that wraps the lunches to keep them hot.
Besides food, many sites also offer activities for the students to participate in while eating or afterward.
“There’s so much that goes on in this program it’s hard to grasp it all, there are lots of enrichment programs that are provided by these feeding sites,” Coates said.
Some examples, include school locations offering guest readers at different sites and times. The Scotland County Literacy Council will host what it is calling an “Adventures in Reading Program.” The program is in its first year but Betty Barrett, the board chair of the literacy council, is excited to start the program to help students in the area.
“We’re doing this program during the summer because there is a need to tutor students and to help them retain what they have learned over the school year,” Barrett said. “The guidance counselors are very pleased and excited for the program because the students are not only getting fed but also getting the help they need.”
The food program is looking for volunteers to help deliver and serve meals.
“If people have the heart to see our community change one child at a time, this is a great program to be able to speak into people’s lives to make a difference,” Quick said. “Each person has something they can bring to the table and a child can benefit from each of the volunteers that come.”
For information on the program or to volunteer contact Sharon Quick at 910-610-9960 or [email protected]