Free kids’ summer meals available

Melonie McLaurin | Daily Journal Students are served free, healthful meals every Monday through Thursday over the summer at Monroe Avenue Elementary School and West Rockingham Elementary School.

Melonie McLaurin | Daily Journal Free breakfast and lunch for children 0-18 are served four days a week at Monroe Avenue and West Rockingham elementary schools.

HAMLET — School’s out for summer, and for many students, that means losing out on nutritious meals. But summer meal programs for students in Richmond County are there to fill that gap.


Infants through 18-year-olds will continue to have a free, healthful breakfast and lunch throughout the summer, thanks to Community Eligibility Provision funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Summer breakfasts are served from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and lunches from 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. each Monday through Thursday at Monroe Avenue Elementary and West Rockingham Elementary.

Lois Hood, child nutrition director for Richmond County Schools, said participation is up dramatically from previous years.

“Normally we only fed 50 or 60 students,” Hood said. “The most we ever had until this year was about 100. But this year we are serving about 300 at Monroe Avenue. At West Rockingham it’s about the same, around 270.”

In order to participate, all that is required is to show up at either of the two schools during the appointed mealtimes.

“It’s not too late,” Hood said. “They can just come to breakfast or lunch. The more participation we have, the more funds we can allocate toward next year’s program. Then we could open more sites at more schools.”

Hood said the breakfasts and lunches served at the schools will follow USDA guidelines for healthful school meals.

“I would like for people to come out and participate and have a healthy meal,” she said. “Especially since it’s such a low-income area we live in.”

Transportation is not provided, so students will need to be brought to breakfast and lunch.

“It’s not something they have to sign up for,” Hood said. “So anyone is welcome to start participating at any time. There are other things going on at the schools that do require the student to already have signed up, such as summer reading and academic camps. But the free breakfast and lunch program isn’t like those. Anyone can start participating.”

Hood said the summer menu can be viewed on the Richmond County Schools website. To view the menu, type into your Web browser.

For more information, contact Lois Hood at 910-582-5860.


Alternately, the Leak Street Cultural Center is accepting applications through June 22 for its Summer Food and Fun program.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily June 22 — July 31 at the center, the program includes swimming, field trips, two USDA-approved meals, playground, gym and enrichment activities, recreation room and fitness center. The cost of $50 per student covers activities for the entire six weeks except swimming, which is $1 for each swim.

The camp is sponsored by Leak Street Alumni in cooperation with the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina. For more information, call 910-997-6238.

Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.