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What is farm to summer? Summer nutrition programs offer food, fitness, and fun for kids and teens

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More than 900,000 North Carolina students rely on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year through the school breakfast, school lunch, and afterschool snack programs.

What happens when school is out?

According to a press release, with federal assistance, N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Summer Nutrition Programs provides nutritious meals at no cost for children and adolescents ages 18 and younger across the state.

To start, take a look at this website, and note the county profiles.

Then, to find nutritious summer meals near you for kids and teens:

In addition to meals, summer nutrition programs provide fitness and fun through educational enrichment.

The summer nutrition mascot, Ray F. Sun, may visit a summer meals event in your community. Follow @Ray4NCKids on social media to learn where Ray will be next. The “F” in Ray’s name signifies the food, fitness, fun, and farm-to-summer activities that take place across North Carolina as part of N.C. DPI Summer Nutrition Programs.

What does farm-to-summer mean?

Farm to Summer provides kids with locally grown food and offers many of the same benefits as the Farm to School initiative, such as healthy local food, agriculture and nutrition education, and community connections.

It’s good for the kids! Serving local foods is often tastier and healthier and Farm to Summer activities can help kids engage with their food in a new way!

It’s good for farmers! Partnering with farmers in the summertime provides them with a reliable marketplace to sell their goods during the peak growing season.

— a post on Instagram

Program operators are encouraged to take the N.C. Farm to Summer Challenge to serve local food as part of meals and snacks, to teach about agriculture, nutrition, and local food, and to share about #farmtosummer activities, and sign up to participate in the #NCCrunch for #FarmtoSchool month in October.

N.C. DPI Summer Nutrition Programs, agencies, organizations, and families can all participate in the N.C. Farm to Summer Challenge. The sign-up, toolkit, and other resources are available on DPI’s Office of School Nutrition website.

Summer nutrition programs are typically located in economically distressed areas to serve the most food-insecure, vulnerable students, according to the press release. Meal sites may be located at schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, medical centers, faith-based facilities, libraries, and other locations.

Meals are served to eligible children at no cost. Registration and identification are not required.

Please spread the word.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.