The regional food bank is asking for the community's help to ensure that more than 145,000 residents in Eastern North Carolina don't go hungry this summer.
"Typically, summer is a time when we don’t receive as many donations," said Jennifer Caslin, project manager with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Every summer for the last decade, the organization has launched a "Stop Summer Hunger" initiative throughout the region to encourage more food and monetary donations from local communities, Caslin said.
"The kids are out of school for the summer, and they are missing out on those two school meals," she said. "That puts stress on the whole family. We want to make sure the whole family is fed."
Almost 58, 000 children in the 10 Eastern North Carolina counties that the food bank serves eat free or reduced-cost meals at school, Caslin said. To help feed them during the summer months, the food bank organizes the Kids Summer Meals program sponsored by the USDA at more than 120 locations throughout its 34-county service region.
"Either we administer the program or in some areas school systems administer the program," Caslin said.
The "Stop Summer Hunger" intiative, which is separate from the summer food service program, kicked off at the food bank's Greenville and New Bern branches this week. Residents who would like to donate can visit their local branch locations. The food bank's website provides information for those who would like to organize a food drive.