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North Carolina Summer Nutrition Programs Offer Free, Healthy Meals for Children During the Coronavirus Pandemic

More than 900,000 North Carolina students rely on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year through the School Breakfast, School Lunch, and Afterschool Meals programs. But hunger doesn't take a summer break, especially this summer, when social distancing is necessary to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

For this summer, NCDPI has already enrolled 184 sponsors serving 2,718 sites. Last year, North Carolina's Summer Nutrition Programs served nearly 100,000 children per day statewide. Summer Nutrition Programs can provide meals for children any time school is out.  Meals are provided for children and adolescents ages 18 and younger.

Since North Carolina schools closed to students March 16, more than 30 million meals have been served through the Summer Nutrition Program’s emergency feeding initiatives in order to support the state’s COVID-19 public health response.  Local education agencies and community organizations serving as Summer Nutrition Program sponsors have been provided guidance regarding the requirements for personal hygiene, food safety and social distancing. The Guidelines for Ensuring Health and Safety for School Nutrition Staff and Children and Families Receiving School Nutrition Services were developed through a collaboration between the NCDPI and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; the guidelines incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Board of Education and Executive Orders from the Office of Governor.  

To find free, healthy meals for children ages 18 and younger near you:

  • Text "FoodNC" to 877-877 for information in English or “COMIDA” to 877-877 for information in Spanish,
  • Call toll-free 1.866.3Hungry (1.866.348.6479) or 1.877.8Hambre (1.877.842.6273),
  • Utilize the No Kid Hungry North Carolina mapping tool at, or
  • Visit the USDA's Summer Meal Site Finder,

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. Summer Nutrition Programs may be found on the NCDPI, School Nutrition Division’s website. Citizens and organizations interested in getting involved as sponsors, sites, activity providers or volunteers should contact the NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (AD-3027) available online and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

  1. (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
  2. (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or
  3. (3) email: