Program That Feeds Triad Children In Urgent Need

GREENBORO, N.C. -- More than half the students in Guilford County Schools qualify for free or reduced lunches at school. For many of them, the next meal is never promised and once school is out for the summer their parents struggle to put food on the table.

A federal grant allows districts like Guilford County to serve hot breakfast and lunches throughout the summer months.

At Wiley Elementary, a food pantry supplements dinner and weekend meals.

"We have oatmeal, we have cups of noodles," Chris Sifford said while looking through a bag of groceries at the pantry. Sifford is the Volunteer Director at the Volunteer Center of Greensboro.

A partnership with United Way allows the volunteers to run the school pantry through the summer months and Wednesday 35 bags were stuffed with groceries waiting for the students to take home on Thursday.

"It's very helpful," said Renee Whitsett, a parent of one of the students.

The program called, MeaningFul Meals, is how a lot of low-income families whose children attend Wiley make ends meet in the summer. Where school breakfast and lunches end, volunteers pick up at the school's pantry and put food on the table at home.

"Let me just say this: I look forward to it every week," said LaTonya Rowland.

"The two months that they are out of school, it's kind of rough. I have to worry about rent and other bills that need to be paid in the process so the bag that I receive helps me knock some of the things of the grocery list," Gordon said.

Once a week, the volunteers bag groceries, enough to last each family seven days and the children take the bags home.

"It helps a whole lot for the kids to have something to eat,' said Whitsett.

But the next seven days are looking grim.

The bare shelves tell their own story.

"We may not have enough for next week," Sifford said.

He adds that there's an urgent need, especially in the summer months when donations are usually down.

"We don't know from week to week. If we don't get any donations then it may be that next Thursday we will not be able to receive a bag," Gordon said.

You can donate canned goods or money to the program through:

The Volunteer Center of Greensboro, located at 1500 Yanceyville Street in Greensboro or Wiley Elementary School at 600 West Terrell Street in Greensboro.

A reminder for families in need, children under 18 can pick up free breakfast or lunches at several schools in Guilford and Forsyth County schools this summer.

Other school districts across the Triad are running a similar program; just check with your district for locations and times.


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