School’s out. That may be a happy sentiment for most children, but many children will suffer during the summer months. Why? School provides more than education and fun. It provides free meals for students who would otherwise go hungry.
In 2012, 56 percent of children were enrolled in free and reduced lunch programs in North Carolina. This year, at one local Durham elementary school, 95 percent of their students needed free and reduced lunches. Without food assistance programs during the summer, many families have to provide more meals than they are used to during the school year.
This isn’t just a children’s issue. More than 80 percent of households that rely on food assistance programs don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to NC Food Banks. Many families have to choose between buying food and other necessities, such as housing, heating and healthcare.
Unfortunately, some food banks can’t keep up with the high demand. In our state, over one-third of food banks have had to turn people away because they don’t have a sustainable supply of food.
We All Need to Do Our Part
Blue Cross NC participates in the Backpack Buddies program during the school year. We help provide six meals and two snacks to 150 students at Y.E. Smith Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club in Durham for the weekend. “This program is important because many students in the program will receive their last hot meal for the week during lunch on Friday,” says Cheryl Parquet. Parquet is a Backpack Buddies volunteer and program manager on the Community Relations team at Blue Cross NC.
During the summer months, Blue Cross NC partners with East Durham Children’s Initiative to offer hot meals during lunchtime to students who depend on free and reduced lunches during the school year.
How You Can Do Your Part
Blue Cross NC has partnered with the Durham Bulls to help end hunger in North Carolina. On July 4, the first 200 people to bring 10 canned goods to the Bulls game will get a free ticket to the game.
So bring your cans and your family for a fun-filled day while also helping your neighbors!