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Stepping in where needed

The county has a problem. It’s not just one section of the county, one municipality or town — it’s the entire county. It’s a problem that physically affects only some, but, in reality, affects us all. Because here in Beaufort County, children go to bed hungry. They call these children “food insecure,” a rather tepid term that means these children may not know if or when they will next have a meal.

These children represent nearly a quarter of Beaufort County residents under the age of 18. That is a problem.

During the school year, free breakfasts and lunches are available to every single child enrolled in Beaufort County Schools, but once school is out for the summer, that changes. While most children view summer as a time to romp and play, to go on family vacations and spend hours with friends, there is that quarter of the young population who equates no school with no food.

Fortunately, there are those who are determined to make sure these children are fed, at breakfast and lunch throughout the summer. Led by Washington daycare center Care-O-World, the Beaufort County Summer Food Service Program is now in full service, offering breakfast and lunch on weekdays. By partnering with a variety of agencies, several locations have been set up where children can count on two meals a day.

At Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, 820 Bridge St., Washington, breakfast is served from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.; lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. At Arts of the Pamlico, 150 W. Main St., Washington, breakfast can be had from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., and lunch, from 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. This week, more lunch sites opened in Washington, including Church of the Good Shepherd, 2425 N. Market St., serving lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.; Quail Ridge neighborhood, 940 Runyon Road, from noon to 1 p.m.; River Road Estates Mobile Home Park, 105 East Drive, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Thomas Lane Mobile Home Park, 127 Thomas Lane, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.. Today, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 101 N. Bonner St., joins the sites, serving lunch Mondays through Fridays, from noon until 1 p.m.

There are no questions asked. To be fed, all a child needs to do is simply show up.

Children are not responsible for the poverty in which they live. Children in Beaufort County should not have to worry where and when they’ll next be able to eat. Care-O-World, and each of its partnering agencies, are doing what we all should be doing: looking out for neighbors and strangers alike, taking care of the most vulnerable among us — and that is to be commended.