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Public schools and community organizations serving as North Carolina Summer Nutrition Program sponsors and meal sites are bringing the farm to summer nutrition programs this year. North Carolina children participating in local Summer Nutrition Programs will have the opportunity to consume locally grown foods and learn about agriculture and healthy eating through the 2021 N.C. Farm-to-Summer initiative.

July 18 to 24 is N.C. Farm-to-Summer Week. During this week and throughout the summer, N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs are encouraged to “Take the N.C. Farm-to-Summer Challenge” by:

  • Purchasing and serving locally grown foods in meals and snacks,
  • Teaching about local foods through Farm-to-School educational activities in-person, virtually, or sent home with children,
  • Posting about Farm-to-Summer activities on social media using #NCFarmtoSummer, #NCSummerMeals, @NCSchoolMeals, and/or @Ray4NCKids, and
  • Signing up for the N.C. Crunch to celebrate farm to school in October. The N.C. Crunch is an opportunity for kids and adults to taste and learn about North Carolina-grown produce. Schools, early care and education centers, community organizations, individuals, and families are encouraged to participate.

There are many benefits to implementing Farm-to-Summer at summer meal sites. Summer Nutrition Programs coincide with the peak growing season for local farmers and producers, giving sponsors the opportunity to tap into locally sourced foods and to incorporate these foods into their summer meals. Sponsors can increase participation by improving the quality of meals served and keep kids engaged in learning and moving through fun educational activities. Farm-to-Summer can both connect children and the community to where their food is grown and to the people who grow it and financially support local growers and producers.

Summer Nutrition Programs can provide meals for children any time school is out and are offered to children and adolescents ages 18 and younger. To find free, healthy meals near you for children:

N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs are administered by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), with federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Summer Nutrition Programs are typically located in economically distressed areas in order to serve the most food-insecure, vulnerable students. 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 ID are not required.

Additional information regarding N.C. Farm-to-Summer Week and N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs may be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition Division’s website. A Farm-to-Summer Toolkit, specific to North Carolina, is available for summer meal sponsors, sites, and partners. Stay tuned to @NCSchoolMeals and @Ray4NCKids for social media posts about Farm-to-Summer activities across the state. Citizens and organizations interested in getting involved as sites, activity providers, or volunteers should contact the NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Team at summernutritionprogram@dpi.nc.gov.