Children who rely on school meals for food will have an easier time getting through the weekends, thanks to the efforts of about 120 volunteers with N.C. Cooperative Extension. In late January, these advisers and extension employees gathered to package more than 3,500 meals that will provide some weekend meals for school children in Extension’s South Central District.
Extension employees and advisory leaders attended a day-long workshop Jan. 28 on Advocacy in Action for counties, held at the Dennis Wicker Civic Center in Sanford.
As part of the day’s activities, the advisors packed meals for “Hungry to Help,” a partnership program between N.C. 4-H and the Food Bank of North Carolina. The program strives to provide food for those in our state without enough to eat.
The meals will provide nutritious weekend foods for school children who receive free or reduced price meals on school days, but may not have enough to eat over the weekend. The weekend meals include foods like cereal, milk, stews and soups that are ready-to-eat.
Avron Upchurch, chair of the Lee County Extension Advisory Council, described hunger as a
“problem hiding in plain sight,” effecting as many as one in five North Carolina children. The state ranks second worst for children under age 5 lacking access to nutritious food and 10th worst for total number of children lacking access.
“I hope you’ll be energized and understand how you can go back and advocate for those young people who are hungry,” Upchurch told the advisors.
In addition to packing meals, advisors learned about several other extension initiatives, including The 10% Campaign, which encourages consumers to spend 10 percent of their food dollars locally. A local foods coordinator in each Extension center supports the effort. To demonstrate the local food resources available in the area –even in winter — the volunteers enjoyed a catered lunch of chicken, collards, sweet potatoes and frozen blueberries, all raised locally.
Advisors learned details about the 100th anniversary celebration for family and consumer sciences, a Cooperative Extension program. They also heard ideas on how to advocate for Extension initiatives in the state.
-Written by N. Hampton