WATAUGA — Across all five Watauga County Schools summer food programs — with one open site offered to all children to use and four closed sites offered only to those enrolled in camps at those locations — a total of 9,630 meals were served to children during the summer months.
“We are very proud of the summer feeding program and the hard work our child nutrition staff puts in to see that it operates smoothly,” said WCS spokesperson Garrett Price. “That number represents a great impact across our community.”
WCS announced early during the summer that it would be operating a summer feeding program at Hardin Park School open to all children. Meals were available to any child under 18 years of age. The school system also operated closed site food programs at four other locations that were for children that were enrolled in a camp program.
Closed sites included a summer literacy program at Boone United Methodist Church (June 24-Aug. 2); the summer Vacation Bible School at Brushy Fork Baptist Church (July 22-26); Cove Creek School Read to Achieve Program and WAMY campers (June 17-Aug. 9); and the last two weeks of the Parkway School Parks and Recreation camp (July 29-Aug. 9). For the BUMC and Brushy Fork Baptist programs, Bolick said the meals were prepared at the schools but served at the churches.
In addition to walk-ins at Hardin Park School, children who were served were participants in the Read to Achieve Program and the Watauga Parks and Recreation camp (June 17-July 26).
Monica Bolick, the school system’s director of child nutrition, said WCS provided 4,166 breakfast meals and 5,464 lunch meals for all five locations. The Hardin Park site — excluding those who were there for camps — had two children come for breakfast per day and three eat lunch per day.
“The number of walk-in participants at Hardin Park is lower than we hoped for,” Bolick said. “We had not hosted an open site at Hardin Park in the past, so we didn’t have any baseline numbers. We anticipated that more people would take advantage of the open site since it was ‘in town’ and could use public transportation to get there.”
Bolick said she did not foresee the program dissolving for future summers as long as WCS continued to have sites that are eligible to participate in the program.
“Whether kids visit summer feeding as part of a camp program, or they visit just to eat, I know our cafeteria staff is proud to be able to fill that need and to send hungry kids home fed,” Price said.
N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs are administered by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the School Operations Division with federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional information regarding N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs can be found at childnutrition.ncpublicschools.gov.