NEWS RELEASES 2014-15 :: JANUARY 29, 2015

NOTE :: Various file formats are used on this page that may require download. If larger than 1mb, it will take longer to download. For instructions or more information, please visit our download page.


Last year in North Carolina, 826,000 students were eligible to receive free or reduced priced meals at school through the National School Lunch Program. Of that number, a mere 140,854 received meals during the summer months through the Summer Nutrition Programs. In other words, 83 percent of economically disadvantaged, school-age children may have experienced hunger during the summer months.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, “Summer break should be an enjoyable time for students. Unfortunately, that may not be the case for many of our students because they may be hungry and unaware that there are summer programs that could provide them with tasty nutritional meals.”

School Nutrition Services Section Chief Lynn Harvey said that currently only 17 out of every 100 students who are economically disadvantaged in North Carolina receive meals during the summer months. “It is critical that we partner with organizations across the state to expand the number of meal sites so that we can provide meals to students who need them during the summer break.”

One of top priorities for School Nutrition Services Division staff at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is to promote student’s overall health, well-being and academic success. To achieve this, staff partner with parents and communities and other child advocacy organizations throughout the school year and during the summer months when school is not in session. One of the department’s most important summer collaborations is the Summer Nutrition Programs, which provide appealing meals to students in their communities.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) were established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure economically disadvantaged children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.

Additionally, the USDA has identified 47 counties in North Carolina as high priority or “Strike Force” counties. The Strike Force campaign is intended to leverage local partnerships in high poverty areas to ensure every community’s children have equal access to summer nutrition programs. This past summer, North Carolina had 192 sponsoring agencies and 1,952 summer nutrition sites where children could receive nutritious meals at no cost to the children. Harvey said that although this is a good start, the need for summer nutrition sponsoring agencies and sites is at an all-time high.

In addition to public school districts, the SFSP allows qualifying public and private non-profit organizations to participate and receive federal reimbursement. The meals must be served to eligible children 18 years of age or younger, in an approved site. A site may be an open site, closed enrolled site or camp. The meals served at all sites must be provided at no charge to all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

To learn more about the summer meals program opportunities, or how you can become involved, please visit or contact Cynthia Ervin, Summer School Nutrition Consultant, at or 919.807.3505.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

NC Strike Force Counties
(xls, 19kb)

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.