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174,000 Children in Central and Eastern North Carolina Face Food Insecurity this Summer: Summer Food Assistance Programs Step Up to Help!

Surge in Food Insecurity Among NC Children During Summer Months

Local Organizations Mobilize to Provide Summer Meals and Support

According to Foodbank CENC as summer approaches families across Central and Eastern North Carolina face the daunting challenge of ensuring their children receive adequate nutrition without reliable access to school-provided meals. Recent research reveals that nearly 174,000 school-age children and teens in the region are now experiencing food insecurity an alarming increase of over 39,000 from the previous year. This surge in need coincides with reduced state and federal support and rising essential costs creating a perfect storm for a deepening hunger crisis. The absence of school meals significantly exacerbates this situation leaving many families struggling to provide ten or more additional meals per week per child. The combination of these factors has made the summer months among the most challenging times of year for keeping food on the table, highlighting the urgent need for effective food assistance programs.

To combat this crisis a network of more than 700 local organizations is working hard to provide nutritious food to those in need over the summer. One key resource is the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), available in communities across 17 counties. SFSP offers on-site meals and to-go options through community centers churches, and summer camps, providing free meals and snacks to all children and teens. These efforts also include recreational activities and reading programs to support children’s overall well-being during the summer break.

READ ALSO: Celebrating the Incredible Impact of Food Bank Volunteers

174,000 Children in Central and Eastern North Carolina Face Food Insecurity this Summer: Summer Food Assistance Programs Step Up to Help! (PHOTO:

SUN Bucks and Pop Up Markets Enhance Summer Food Assistance for NC Families

Additionally, North Carolina’s SUN Bucks program offers extra grocery money for families whose children qualify for free or reduced-price meals. This support helps fill the meal gap during school closures with funds deposited on debit cards that can be used at various local retailers. The network also organizes no-cost Pop Up Markets, bringing seasonal produce, fresh dairy, and protein directly to communities. Alongside year-round food pantries, no-cost markets, and meal sites, these programs ensure that families have access to nutritious and culturally familiar foods. The FoodFinder tool helps families locate nearby pantries and delivery options ensuring no child goes hungry this summer.

READ ALSO: Letter Carriers Rally Community to Help ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ in North Carolina

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