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No Kid Hungry NC celebrated 14 child hunger heroes at its annual NC Child Hunger Leaders Conference on Wednesday, February 19 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. Linda Beard, a Social Studies Teacher, at East Bladen High School was honored as a Hunger Hero at the annual event.

There were over 100 nominees for this award, however Ms. Beard took home the title because she made feeding children a priority by:

  • incorporating healthy recipes into lessons,
  • working with her students to introduce the “Eagles Feeding Eagles” food pantry in their school,
  • supporting her school’s innovative Second Chance Breakfast program,
  • and going above and beyond to make sure students have food during holiday breaks.

Ms. Beard received nominations from fellow teachers and the school nutrition manager at East Bladen High School, according to Andrew Harrell, Communications and Program Specialist with No Kid Hungry NC.

Ms. Beard began the Eagles Feeding Eagles food pantry at EBHS in 2019.  She said, “At Thanksgiving our group sent out 65 boxes of food throughout the county. It is all donations from individuals throughout the county.”

Congressman David Price and First Lady of NC Kristin Cooper served as special presenters during the ceremony announcing the NC Child Hunger Hero Award winners.

The NC Child Hunger Hero Awards are a way of showing appreciation for the everyday heroes who make healthy meals possible for kids. No Kid Hungry NC received more than 100 nominations from across the state for people who are combating child hunger in various ways. Each Child Hunger Hero is working to make nutrition more accessible for kids in need.

The Hero Award winners include: A high school student in Fayetteville who has been fighting child hunger since the third grade. A Durham mother who uses her front yard as a site for free summer meals for kids.

A district nutrition director who made school breakfast and lunch available at no charge, and dramatically increased participation in breakfast by making it part of the school day. You can learn about all of the hero award winners and nominees, and download photos, at NoKidHungryNC.org/Hero.

Almost 60% of the nearly 1.5 million public school students in North Carolina qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Many of those students rely on child nutrition programs at school or elsewhere for at least some of their daily nutrition.

“There are many unsung heroes in our state working to ensure that children have the nutrition they need,” said Lou Anne Crumpler, State Director of No Kid Hungry NC. “One of the best parts of our work is getting to celebrate these nutrition professionals, educators, volunteers, and others whose work often goes under-appreciated.”

This was the ninth annual NC Child Hunger Leaders Conference, a day of celebration and inspiration for professionals, volunteers, and advocates working to feed more kids in our state. The NC Child Hunger Hero Awards are a new addition to the conference.

Gerald Owens, WRAL-TV News Anchor, was emcee for the awards ceremony. No Kid Hungry NC hosted the event with conference sponsors Share Our Strength, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, The Dairy Alliance, and Barbara and Jim Goodmon. Conference partners include The North Carolina Institute for Public Health, Carolina Public Press, and Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc./WRAL-TV. No Kid Hungry NC is an initiative of the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for health Promotion and Disease Prevention. It works to end child hunger by increasing access to child nutrition programs, including school breakfast, free summer meals for kids, and At-Risk Afterschool Meals. It does this by providing grants, technical assistance, marketing tools, and other resources to the schools and community organizations operating these nutrition programs.

2020 NC Child Hunger Hero Award Winners: Linda Beard, Teacher, East Bladen High School, Bladen County Jennifer Brown, Director of School Food Service, Swain County Schools, Swain County Deborah Davis Carpenter, Child Nutrition Executive Director, Hoke County Schools, Hoke County Ritchie Cornette, Principal, Mulberry Elementary School, Wilkes County Sil Ganzó, Executive Director, ourBRIDGE for KIDS, Mecklenberg County Tracey Holbert & Laura Valdez, Site Manager / Leasing Agent, Woodridge Apartments, Buncombe County Melody Howell, School Nutrition Manager, Bethel School, Watauga County Steve McCrossan, Executive Director, NourishNC, New Hanover County Avery Pickett, Student, Cape Fear High School, Cumberland County Carol Schmitz-Corken, Volunteer, Bread Riot, Rowan County Rosemary & Allen Stimpson, Summer Food Service Program Sponsors, Ezekiel AME Zion Church, Forsyth County Marcella Thompson, Summer Food Service Program Sponsors, The Mustard Seed, Durham County.

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