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Program ensures children, teens don’t go hungry; group seeks volunteers

By CHRISTOPHER RYAN OEHRLI

For The Daily News

A program organized by locals and funded by the federal government will again provide free meals to students in Beaufort County this summer.

Headed by Care-O-World, a Washington day care center, the Beaufort County Summer Food Service Program offers breakfast and lunch on weekdays at the following locations:

  • Beaufort County Ed Tech Center — 820 Bridge St. From 9 to 10 a.m. for breakfast and noon to 1:30 p.m. for lunch.
  • Arts of the Pamlico — 150 W. Main St. From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast and 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for lunch.

More sites will open June 18, offering lunch. They are:

  • Church of the Good Shepherd — 2425 N. Market St. 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • Quail Ridge — 940 Runyon Road. Noon to 1 p.m.
  • River Road — Estates Mobile Home Park. 105 East Drive. 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Thomas Lane Mobile Home Park — 127 Thomas Lane. 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Initially headed by Beaufort County Schools, Care-O-World became the program’s leading sponsor in 2008, though BCS remains a partner. All meals this year will be cooked in a single kitchen at P.S. Jones Middle School. Last year, 30,000 meals were given away, and Care-O-World hopes to surpass that number by another 5,000 meals this time around.

The federal Department of Agriculture covers the meals’ costs. No state or local funds are collected.

“The whole point is to replace the meals students would have at school,” said Jason Carrow, the executive director of Care-O-World.

In 2017, a federal provision guaranteed Beaufort County students free breakfasts and lunches at school. But come summer, many students go hungry, according to program officials. Around 22 percent of county residents under 18 live below the poverty line, according to a 2016 U.S. Census Bureau report.

“There’s one requirement,” for eligible children to eat, said Carrow. “Show up — there’s no questions asked.”

In years past, volunteers have gone to great lengths to make sure children are not only fed, but also have something to do while they’re at the feeding sites. Last summer, “literacy volunteers” set out books for children to read and take home after their meals. Others brought toys to Quail Ridge.

Limited transportation is arranged via a Care-O-World bus, which picks up children from trailer parks and neighborhoods.

Carrow said the group would like to open two more sites this summer in Chocowinity and at Havens Gardens, but more volunteers are needed first.

For more information or to volunteer, email Care-O-World’s Teresa Clayton at teresac@careoworld.org, or call or text 252-943-5616.