Food program doesn’t end with last bell

Hundreds of students are fed throughout the day at Whiteville City Schools (WCS), and each campus is offering healthier snack options through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). 

The program is federally funded by the USDA and provides all children with a variety of free fresh produce at lunch time. It is also an effective way to promote better eating habits, and introduce fresh fruits and vegetables into a youngster’s diet. WCS has been participating in the program since the 2005-2006 school year.  

Each campus cafeteria has a refrigeration unit filled with individual bags of the fresh foods, and staff hand them out at during the children’s lunch period. The goal of the FFVP is to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables that the kids experience while increasing their consumption of the produce. The program is seen as a catalyst for making a difference in a child’s diet to impact their present and future health.  

Whiteville City Schools also provide after school snacks  

WCS also has a Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP. CEP is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas, and allow school nutrition services to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. 

This feeds children during school hours, but the WCS has put measures in place to also offer a snack for after-schoolers.   

“We have an after-school snack program for programs that operate within the school after school has been released for the day,” says Jamesie Gentry, Director of WCS school nutrition services. Students participating in the FFA, chorus club, or other extracurricular activities are provided something to nibble on until they are finished for the day. 

WCS campuses provide dinner through the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program 

The WCS school nutrition services have been operating an At-Risk afterschool meal program since the 2016-2017 school year. 

The service is a component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The CACFP is federally funded and state-administered, and provides funding to child and adult care centers that serve healthy meals and snacks. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service administers the CACFP at the national level.  

Snacks and dinner are served to children and teens who participate in afterschool programs in low-income areas. These programs must be organized to provide care for children after school or on the weekends, holidays, and breaks in the regular school year. They must also provide scheduled activities and include educational or enrichment activities like arts and crafts, computer lessons, or homework help.  

WCS nutrition services has operated a Summer Foods Service Program (SFSP) since 2009. This federally funded program offers meals to children and teenagers 18 years and younger in low-income areas during the summer months when school is out. The days of operation are Monday-Thursday.  

Local churches and organizations get involved by either becoming a meal drop off site, or by volunteering to deliver meals to the homes of the children. 

Sponsors are always welcome, and can enter into agreements with state agencies to run the program. Schools, local government agencies, camps, faith-based and other non-profits can become a sponsor.  

“We sponsor up to 70 sites every summer,” says Gentry.  

Edgewood Elementary is the main place of operation for the SFSP, and will start up during the month of June when schools are let out for the year. 

Many volunteers are needed to carry out the program. For more information on how to help, email Jamesie Gentry at jgentry@whiteville.k12.nc.us.

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About Jefferson Weaver 1326 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.