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New mascot, student contest launch summer nutrition programs

Members of the State Board of Education were treated to a debut appearance today by “Ray,” a mascot designed by students to help promote summer nutrition programs across the state. The life-size mascot will be making appearances around the state to help the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and local school and community partners promote N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs that provide meals to students struggling with hunger when school is out.

Ray was designed by a team of students from Corinth Holders High School in Johnston County as part of a student art contest sponsored by NCDPI’s School Nutrition Services. Another student from Corinth Holders High School designed the new N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs logo. Keri Brewer, the students’ teacher, accepted contest awards on their behalf at today’s meeting. 

Now, North Carolina students have another opportunity to apply their creative skills through the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs Promotional Materials Contest. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to design and submit promotional content such as a theme song, jingle, rap, dance, skit, public service announcement or other animated creation to help get children and teens excited about meeting up to eat up, enjoy physical activity, learn and have fun through N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs. With support from The Dairy Alliance, contest winners will receive cash prizes: $200 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place. All contest entries must be submitted by April 6 at 5 p.m. 

During the school year, many students rely on the nutritious meals served through the School Breakfast Program, School Lunch Program, and Afterschool Meals Program. But hunger doesn’t take a summer break. Last summer, the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs served more than 5.2 million meals to children and teens at almost 3,000 locations around the State. Still, only 12 out of every 100 public school students eligible for the program received these meals. And even through these programs are open to all students up to age 18, mostly elementary students or younger children participate in the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs. 

Raising awareness is key to ensuring all kids who need summer meals can utilize these vital programs. 

“More than one in four children in our state do not know where their next meal will come from. Making students and families aware of available sites for summer meals is crucial to keeping kids well-nourished, healthy and ready-to-learn,” said Lynn Harvey, chief of School Nutrition Services for NCDPI. 

Summer Nutrition Programs (Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option) are administered by NCDPI’s School Nutrition Services with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs serve nutritious meals to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas (where 50 percent or more of the students qualify for no-cost or reduced-price school meals). The program may operate in schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, faith-based facilities, and other sites where students gather during the summer months. Meals are served to eligible children at no cost and registration is not required.

School Nutrition Services seeks qualified private nonprofit and public organizations to administer the Summer Food Service Program. To access a fact sheet that will provide additional information about administering the program, click here. After reviewing this information, if you would like to be considered to sponsor a program for 2018, complete the Summer Food Service Program Sponsor Pre-Screen. Once you have completed the online pre-screening, a Summer Nutrition Consultant will be in contact with you to discuss next steps.

Students and teachers with questions about the N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs Promotional Materials Contest or citizens and organizations interested in more information about getting involved as a site, activity provider or volunteer, should contact NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin.

USDA and NCDPI are equal opportunity providers and employers. Additional information regarding School Nutrition Programs in North Carolina can be found on the School Nutrition Services website.


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.