Of every 100 children in South Carolina, 27 went hungry at times in 2015, according to national nonprofit Feeding America. Work to change that is underway, and End Child Hunger SC is helping lead the charge.
End Child Hunger SC teamed with other organizations in the Midlands for the first Summer Food Service Program Tour, offering free meals to any child. “”All the kids have to do is eat,” said End Child Hunger Community Organizer Ashley Page. “We’re trying to get the awareness out there.”
The tour made stops in Richland, Lexington, and Newberry counties in July, offering free meals and spreading the word that the program, funded in part by the USDA, is available, designed specifically to help families who depend on free lunches at school and struggle to put food on the table during the summer.
“I can relate to kids whose challenge is to find something to eat in the summertime. I was that kind of kid,” said volunteer Wanda Martin. “Remember where you came from. I came from that environment where I would be home with my brothers and my sisters and we would have to find food.”
The meals offered fit nutritional requirements set by the USDA, and the tour brought together children from many different areas and backgrounds. Richland County Councilman Jim Manning said the diversity of the group was also a benefit to the children. “They’re getting that advantage of breaking bread together,” he said. “When many of us grew up, we didn’t have people of different colors.”
“I’m thrilled to death for the services being provided in our county,” Manning added. “It’s a shame to have the resources available and people don’t know about it.”
“There’s no paperwork that you have to present… Any child can come,” Page reiterated. Martin said they have plenty of food, and want more kids to take advantage. “The biggest challenge we have is getting this out there to the public.”
The tour also included games and other activities for the kids, led by volunteers from End Child Hunger SC. A full list of feeding sites is available here, along with information on getting involved in the program as a donor or a volunteer.