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Cornerstone, county schools distribute 36,000 meals for kids

Within a span of two hours on Friday, 2,000 local children took home approximately 36,000 meals, both breakfasts and lunches, to last them this weekend and next week, as the county’s summer feeding program comes to a close and Beaufort County Schools prepares to kick off its fall semester.

During the course of this week, volunteers with Cornerstone Community Based Programs packed a total of 2,000 boxes of food with 28,000 meals, covering the gap in meal services next week, when BCS staff will get a much-deserved weeklong break. The school nutrition teams, which handled meal preparations this week, also provided four meals for each student to cover this weekend, bringing that total to 36,000.

“Since school is still going to be closed, and the child nutrition services for BCS will be off next week, we have partnered with them to do a week’s worth of meals,” said Cornerstone Senior Pastor Bishop James McIntyre. “There are seven days of food in each box, breakfast and lunch, and that’s what we’ve been doing here for the past week, is putting those boxes together for the children here in Beaufort County.”

That accomplishment was made possible by a team of volunteers, who transformed the back room and kitchen of Cornerstone Family Worship Center into an assembly line this past week. Packing boxes one by one, the team filled an entire hallway with the boxes, which were then distributed to local kids Friday.

“Our volunteers come from several of our hubs, right here in our church, and we’ve also had some of our community citizens come in who have volunteered,” McIntyre said. “People see the need, and they want to help, so they come in and pitch a hand. They’ve done a great job, and we appreciate all of them.”

BOXES UPON BOXES: Nearly 2,000 boxes, each containing 14 meals, were sent home with local children Friday, in addition to meals for the weekend prepared by Beaufort County Schools child nutrition staff. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, BCS and Cornerstone have provided more than 750,000 meals for kids. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

This summer marks the first that Cornerstone Community Programs has handled the county’s summer feeding program, in partnership with Beaufort County Schools. In the spring, child nutrition staff at BCS provided more than half a million meals for students at drive-through locations throughout the county, ensuring that kids who rely on breakfast and lunches received the nutrition they need.

According to Gwyn Roberson-McBride, who has helped manage the summer feeding program for Cornerstone, there have been approximately 250,000 meals served for local kids since June.

“It has been one of the best experiences for me to see our church communities and volunteers within other organizations put these boxes together for the children in our community,” Roberson-McBride said. “It just makes my heart feel good to know that some of the kids I see at the site, who might not have known where they were getting their meals next week, now have food in the home that they can eat both this weekend and next week. It’s just a good, fulfilling feeling in your heart to know that 2,000 kids are not going to be hungry next week.”

The seven-week program, which is supplemented by a $650,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, is part of Cornerstone’s larger vision of establishing community hubs throughout the county to help improve nutrition, health and wellness for residents of all ages. Sites at Aurora, Chocowinity, Pantego/Belhaven, Blounts Creek and Washington will all serve as food pantries and central locations for health and wellness resources throughout the year.

“The response has been good,” McIntyre said. “In this time that we’re in now, with this coronavirus, some families have been displaced in terms of work, so income has been short. This has helped tremendously in providing meals for families.”

To learn more about Cornerstone Community Based Programs, find them on Facebook at @CCBPs. Additional details about the school system’s nutrition program for the fall semester will be shared next week.