The Summer Food Service Program through which Lenoir County Public Schools provides free, nutritious breakfasts and lunches to youth in the county grew by nearly 6,000 meals this summer – an average of about 700 more meals a week.
From mid-June to mid-August, the program served 46,104 free breakfast and lunch meals. That total compares to the 2016 total of 40,451 and 29,390 in 2015, both of which were records at that point. Since 2014, the program has grown by 163 percent.
A record summer was virtually assured after the program’s fast start in June, when it plated nearly twice as many meals as in June 2016. The increase stemmed primarily from LCPS’s expansion of summer academic programs. The program also provided 2,815 snacks.
LCPS’s Child Nutrition Department operated 11 cafeterias on a scheduled aligned with the district’s five academic camps. In addition to feeding more than a thousand LCPS students enrolled in the camps, the program also provided meals for children taking part in summer day camps offered by the Boys and Girls Club of Lenoir County, the Salvation Army, the Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department and a number of churches.
“The growth of the program is very gratifying because it says more children in Lenoir County were able to get hot, healthy breakfasts and lunches and get the benefits of the nutrition that’s packed into those meals,” Danelle Smith, LCPS’s child nutrition director, said. “We want to see the program continue to expand and our partnerships with the community continue to grow until we’re able to serve all Lenoir County students during the summer.”
Thirty-one LCPS nutrition department employees were involved in the program, which is offered through the Federal School Nutrition Program. All meals meet federal nutrition guidelines and, under federal rules, are provided for free to anyone 18 years old and younger.