In February, I wrote a piece about a school in another state that took lunches away from students who weren’t paid up. Thankfully, I learned then that Buncombe County Schools has a policy of ensuring each student has a lunch, even if his or her parents haven’t covered the cost for that day. Now, it’s even better news over the summer with the announcement that for the third year in a row, schools are offering free lunches at 16 different sites scattered around the county. That’s fabulous news for thousands of youth and their families!
Different Parents, Different Circumstances
If you're skeptical, consider this. Working parents don’t usually get the summer off so they have to make a crazy quilt of arrangements for their children. Summer doesn't include all-day camps or trips out of town for every child. It might be half day programs or being at home alone. Whatever those plans include, at least the babysitters, neighbors or older siblings have a chance of getting to a meal site nearby for a decent lunch for the kids Monday through Friday.
Struggling parents find their food bills skyrocket over the summer when their children are at home. That kind of financial strain can lead to less food per family member, poor quality of food at mealtime or skipped meals altogether. These feeding sites are the best hope for many families to get some good food for their children each weekday.
Neglectful parents may not even pay much attention to this available meal source. Too many youth are simply on their own most of the time. However, this summer other community people have an opportunity to connect students to these meal sites. If the word gets out about where to get a free lunch and there is a way for kids to get there, they will show up. It’s sad that some parents can’t be counted on, but it’s an opportunity for others to step in to help.
What Can You Do?
Look at the site list, think about the students you see and tell everyone about this resource. We actually have a chance to make a difference in their lives this summer! And remember, the site policy is “no questions asked” so where they are in school makes no difference. You can also dial 2-1-1 for more information on food assistance programs in the area.
Buncombe County Schools Summer Meal Sites
Avery’s Creek Elementary
Black Mountain Library
Erwin Community Pool
Hill Top Trailer Park
Hominy Valley Pool
Lone Oak Trailer Park
North Asheville Library
Pack Memorial Library
Sand Hill-Venable Elementary
W.D. Williams Elementary