In a bid to prevent the liklihood of children going hungry while school is out, each county in S.C will now offer students free breakfast and lunch for every day of the week over the summer.
The special program is named "Summer Break Cafés", with food pick-up locations to be located throughout the state at schools, parks, libraries, churches, and other partner organizations.
“Hunger and malnutrition not only make students more prone to illness and health issues but can also negatively impact school performance once the semester begins,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman told Live5 News.
Unlike pre-pandemic summers, students and families can pick up meals and take them home rather than students needing to eat on-site.
According to Feeding America, one in seven children in South Carolina are considered food insecure,
Charitable programs are unable to fully support those facing hunger. The combination of charity and government assistance programs are necessary to help bridge the meal gap.
SNAP, formerly food stamps, provides temporary help for people going through hard times – providing supplemental money to buy food until they can get back on their feet.
Students are also not required to sign up for free and reduced lunch but are encouraged to so that food service workers can properly plan meals. Adults can also pick up meals even if the child isn’t with them as long as they provide some identification for the student.
“You must learn to adapt, go with the flow, do what you got to do to get the job done, that’s the main thing,” said Lexington Two School District Food Service Manager Connie Smith.
For Smith preparing summer meals for students who may not have any otherwise is the best way to spend the season.
“It’s great to see their little faces getting their meals with a smile on their face,” she said.
While the program is now being branded as a “cafe” she says students are part of her family rather than customers.
“My kids are grown. I have grandchildren. Being here with these students, at this elementary school, I treat them like they are my own. I make sure they are getting the right meals,” she said. “We are here to help and feed you and help your students. It’s a joy in my heart to be able to do this for them I want to make sure they get the right meals they need to have,” Smith said.
Find a summer meal pick up place here