State summer nutrition programs offer free meals for children

More than 900,000 North Carolina students rely on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year through the School Breakfast, School Lunch, and Afterschool Meals Programs. In 2020 alone, N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs served 27,966,843 summer meals, six times the number of meals served in 2019.

This summer, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has already enrolled 184 sponsors serving 2,718 meals. Summer Nutrition Programs can provide meals for children any time school is out and are offered to children and adolescents ages 18 and younger. Due to the ongoing pandemic, more children and their families are struggling to know where their next meal will come from.

To find free, healthy meals near you for children who are ages 18 and younger:

Text “FoodNC” to 877-877 for information in English or “COMIDA” to 877-877 for information in Spanish,

Call toll-free 1.866.3Hungry (1.866.348.6479) or 1.877.8Hambre (1.877.842.6273),

Utilize the N.C. Site Finder mapping tool at, or

Visit the USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder,

Since North Carolina schools closed to students March 16 of last year due to COVID-19, more than 160 million meals have been served through the Summer Nutrition Program’s emergency feeding initiatives in order to support the state’s COVID-19 public health response. Local education agencies and community organizations serving as Summer Nutrition Program sponsors have been provided guidance regarding the requirements for personal hygiene, food safety and social distancing.

N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs are administered by NCDPI, with federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Summer Nutrition Programs are typically located in economically distressed areas in order 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 are served to eligible children at no cost. Registration and ID are not required.

Additional information regarding N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs may be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition Division’s website. Citizens and organizations interested in getting involved as sites, activity providers or volunteers should contact the NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Team at [email protected].




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