-START A SUMMER FOOD PROGRAM-

Volunteers package produce to be donated

Volunteers sort through donated veggies and pack

it into boxes to be delivered to families throughout

Mitchell and Yancey Counties.

Partners Aligned Towards Health (PATH) – Burnsville, NC

Yancey & Mitchell Counties

What do you do when children in your community are going hungry during the summer? In the small mountain town of Burnsville, they deliver food directly to the family’s doorstep. The Summer Food Program, a collaborative program of Partners Aligned Towards Health (PATH), provides families with food deliveries throughout the summer months. Families are referred from other agencies, and the only requirement is that they receive free/reduced lunch through school or Head Start.

The boxes include food staples, such as beans and rice, locally-grown fresh produce, recipes, donated children’s books, and a listing of community resources. The fresh produce is donated by Dig In! Yancey Community Garden and also purchased from local farmers. This has the added bonus of supporting farming families in the community. In recent years, families have received copies of Good and Cheap Cookbook, highlighting inexpensive healthy recipes, and Chop Chop Magazine, which focuses on children and families cooking together.

This program would not exist without the help of dedicated volunteers. Groups gather before each delivery day to pack boxes. Volunteers ride County transportation vans to deliver the boxes to each of the families. In 2016, volunteers delivered 600 boxes to families in need.

To evaluate the effectiveness of this program, PATH distributes a survey to each family at the end of the summer. Along with feeding these families, their goal is to shape cooking habits, and encourage good eating year-round by introducing fresh, local produce and providing nutritious recipes.

Many organizations become an official “Summer Food Service Program” site through North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Through this program, you can get reimbursed for providing breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks to children throughout the summer. Check out the eligibility requirements to see if you can participate.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC also sponsors this a similar program by providing breakfast and lunch to partner sites at no cost.

The area that PATH serves did not qualify for either of these programs, so they started their own. If you’d like to start your own program, you can start your planning process with No Kid Hungry’s Summer Meal Planning Framework. This includes engaging partners, developing goals for your program, identifying tactics to achieve your goals, finding target areas, and creating an assessment tool to make sure your program is effective. Check out the resources below for more information.

Resources

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