COLUMBIA — For kids who receive school meals, the summer months can be the hungriest time of year.

This year promises to be different, thanks to newly expanded guidelines that will give school districts and community organizations the flexibility to offer non-congregate meal service in many more rural communities.

To support the rollout of this effort, No Kid Hungry South Carolina recently announced over $251,000 in grants to help 13 organizations across the state reach even more kids with summer meals.

The Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment in Orangeburg County is among the organizations that will receive grants from No Kid Hungry to help ensure South Carolina kids get the food they need to grow and thrive this summer.

For many children, free and reduced-price school meals can be a lifeline that ensures reliable access to nutrition during the school year. When schools close for the summer, however, these meals disappear, and families struggle from the strain on already-tight budgets. This can be particularly true for rural families.

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In a recent No Kid Hungry survey of rural families, parents reported on the unique hardships they faced during the summer when school is out. More than half of rural families say they don’t have enough money for food during the summer. Over 80% spend more on groceries when their children are out of school for the summer–an average of $168 more each month.

Local lawmakers are urging Gov. Henry McMaster to reconsider his decision not to participate in a federal program that provides families with extra food benefits in the summer.

Summer meal programs were designed to provide healthy meals during summer vacation but have historically only reached a fraction of the kids who need them due to barriers like transportation, fuel costs, extreme weather and parent’s work schedules. In rural areas, where kids often live many miles from their closest meal site, these challenges have been particularly stark.

Governor’s decision to opt out of summer feeding program in South Carolina sparks outcry, leaving thousands of food-insecure children at risk.

“There’s long been a huge gap between the number of kids getting meals in the summertime and the kids who really need them – particularly in rural communities. New flexibilities for summer meals in rural communities means that no longer has to be the case,” said Marissa Spady, No Kid Hungry South Carolina senior manager. “We’re excited to support these schools and community groups in offering summer meals in ways that work for their community – like allowing families to pick up multiple meals at a time or even offering home delivery.”

Most Republican governors turned down federal money to provide grocery help for low-income families with school-age kids this summer. Here’s what to know.

No Kid Hungry’s grant funding supports the adaptations needed to reach as many kids as possible with summer meals, including meal delivery, refrigeration and transportation costs. The following school districts and community organizations received grants in South Carolina:

  • Abbeville County School District
  • Cellis Major Driffin I | Cedric Moses Driffin Pantry & Resource Hub
  • Charleston County School District
  • Chesterfield County School District SC
  • Community Assistance Mentoring Program
  • Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment in Orangeburg County
  • The Family Y, Young Men’s Christian Association/ YWCO of the CSRA, Inc.
  • Lee County School District
  • Lowcountry Food Bank
  • Partners for Change of the Carolinas
  • Performing Arts & Sciences Academy
  • The Smartbox
  • Spartanburg School District 4

No Kid Hungry is also helping families find summer meals near them through our Free Meals Finder map and texting hotline. Parents and caregivers can text the word “FOOD” (or “COMIDA”) to 304-304 to find sites in their neighborhood.

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