The sudden statewide school closures left many parents caught off guard, but it also left many of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students potentially hungry. Locations across the state have quickly adapted to the crisis and are actively working to get food to children.
Where to Go for School Meals in NC
No Kid Hungry is maintaining a comprehensive list of school meal locations in NC that is organized by county. It reminds us to check the websites and social media accounts of our local school district for the most current information.
School nutrition personnel, community organizations, and individual volunteers are coming together to feed North Carolina’s children during this uncertain time. This includes delivering meals to students’ bus stops and providing curbside pickup at schools.
Where to Go for School Meals in Wake County
Wake County Public School System has information on their website with locations for free meals for children. Over a dozen schools are currently serving as locations to distribute hot lunches as well as breakfast for the next day from 11am until 1pm Monday through Friday.
Several community locations have at least one meal available for pickup; some are coordinated by churches and some by individuals. Additionally, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is working with schools to set up locations for their BackPack Buddies program to continue.
4 Things to know for meal pickup at schools:
- Volunteers are at curbside locations
- Food is in sanitized food containers
- Identification is not required to pick up food
- Children do not have to be present
Highlights from Neighboring Counties
- The Durham County school district is providing a meal service beginning on Monday, March 23rd. There will be a “grab and go” for meals and snacks at 17 different DPS school sites from 11am until noon.
- Durham Public Schools will also use yellow school buses to deliver meals and snacks to children once each weekday (11am – 12pm) to approximately 67 school and community sites located in the areas of greatest need.
- All sites will also be providing supplemental learning activities for children.
- 6 elementary schools will be giving a bagged lunch as well as breakfast for the next day (two meals in one bag) from 11:00am -1:00 pm.
- Harnett Food Pantry has transitioned to curbside pickup during their usual hours: Mondays from 4-6:30 pm, Tuesdays from 1-4pm and Thursdays from 10am-1pm.
- Curbside grab and go lunch service is already available from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm at 11 different schools.
Meal Help for Families and Individuals
As businesses continue to close and people no longer have reliable income, it will be increasingly difficult for many to get enough to eat. The North Carolina food banks and food pantries have locations throughout the state and an executive order has made unemployment benefits easier and faster to get. In Wake County, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will set up monthly markets at 7 locations for anyone in the community to pick up groceries.
How to Help Families in Need
People who want to volunteer in Wake County can go to the school system’s website to complete a form. The school system is asking people who want to donate food to bring items to their partners at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle or Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC.
The Food Bank has a list of their most needed items, but does specify money is the best way for people to contribute. Not only does the money go farther, as they are able to buy items in bulk, but letting them purchase needed items limits how many community members are out going shopping. This is incredibly important right now when we should be limiting how often we go into shared spaces.
Stay Up-to-Date with COVID-19
Visit the WakeMed website here for the latest news, resources and information related to coronavirus (COVID-19), updated visitation restrictions and more.
About Meredith Ebersohl, RD
Meredith is a registered dietitian who teaches nutrition classes, offers one-on-one nutrition counseling, and develops education material. She is passionate about explaining nutrition research and helping people incorporate sustainable changes in their lives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their two young children, and their middle-aged pets.