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Public invited to the sixth annual SummerPalooza! Summits




The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition and District Operations Division, along with a diverse group of partners, invites all private nonprofits, public organizations and advocates interested in ending summer hunger for children to participate in the sixth annual SummerPalooza! Summits. This year’s theme, “The Next Level,” focuses on using technology and innovative strategies to create more sustainable and successful summer programs.

The summits are a series of three regional, daylong celebrations and planning events aimed at increasing participation and awareness of North Carolina’s Summer Nutrition Programs. These programs ensure economically disadvantaged children up to age 18 continue to receive nutritious meals and educational enrichment when school is out. The School Nutrition and District Operations Division partners with local agencies and organizations to offer Summer Nutrition Programs in schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, medical centers, faith-based facilities, libraries and other sites where children gather in low-income areas (where 50% or more of the students qualify for no-cost or reduced-price school meals). Meals are served to eligible children at no cost. Registration and ID are not required.

During 2018, nearly 1 million North Carolina children were eligible to receive free summer meals based on family income. According to The Food Research & Action Center’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: 2019 Summer Nutrition State Report, only 14.4% of North Carolina children who participate in the National School Lunch Program during the school year receive summer meals through Summer Nutrition Programs. NCDPI is expanding its efforts to encourage more organizations to become program sponsors and to provide more meal sites throughout the state. Almost 3,500 sites served meals across the state in 2019, but more are needed. The SummerPalooza! Summits will connect, educate and empower organizations and individuals to work together so more children and teens will have access to free summer meals in 2020.

“Children and teens often look forward to summer as a time for friends and fun,” said Lynn Harvey, director for the School Nutrition and District Operations Division. “However, many students do not look forward to summer vacation, because it means a break from the school breakfast and lunch programs so many of them depend on for nutritious meals.

“One in four children in our state struggle with not knowing where their next meal will come from. Along with hunger, students can experience learning loss and a lack of physical activity if not engaged in educational enrichment programs. Connecting them to Summer Nutrition Programs will help fulfill these critical needs so that students may return to school ready to learn.”

Organizations wanting to be a part of the solution in their communities are encouraged to register for a SummerPalooza! Summit. The dates, locations and registration deadlines are noted below. Registration opens Sept. 1. Registration is free, and lunch will be provided. Preregistration is required.

Tuesday, Oct. 22

Eastern Area Health Education Center, Greenville

Registration deadline is Oct. 15, 5 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 24

Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) Center, Greensboro

Registration deadline is Oct. 17, 5 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 29

East Area Health Education Center, Asheville

Registration deadline is Oct. 22, 5 p.m.

If unable to attend a SummerPalooza Summit!, any agencies or organizations interested in being a part of the solution in their communities by becoming a 2020 Summer Nutrition Program sponsor should complete the SFSP Pre-Screening Tool. Upon completion of the pre-screening tool, a Summer Nutrition Program consultant will be in contact.

The NCDPI, School Nutrition and District Operations Division administers Summer Nutrition Programs with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For questions regarding N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs, 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.

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