Swannanoa Valley lunch program for kids is underway

Barbara Hootman
  • Full tummies, fun and friends make for a good summer lunch date at the summer free lunch programs.
  • Buncombe County Schools Child Nutrition Program is offering free daily meals through August 7
  • A free summer lunch program is important to children who have had it throughout the year.
  • Free daily meals Monday-Friday are available to help children needing food get through the summer.

Full tummies, fun and friends make for a good summer lunch date. Buncombe County Schools Child Nutrition Program is offering free meals for kids 2-18 years until Aug. 7. This is the fourth year for the summer free-lunch program.

“The summer meals program helps bridge the gap between the spring and the fall,” said Mary Andraea, a school nutrition specialist for Buncombe County Schools. “Children who receive regular nutritious meals during the school year will continue to have meals over the summer.”

There are three meal sites in the Black Mountain-Swannanoa area. The site at Owen Pool in Swannanoa is open from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The site at Ridgeview Mobile Park, 49 Alan Campos, Swannanoa, is open from noon-1 p.m. The site at Portman Villa Mobile Park, 303 Charles Court, Black Mountain, is open from noon-1 p.m. (All sites will be closed on July 4.)

“We know that children who don’t have adequate nutrition are not only at a disadvantage physically, but academically as well,” she said. “Our program is really expanding, which we owe to the support of our community partnerships. We feel that we are reaching the children that really are in need.”

Because more nutrition sites are available in Buncombe County (there are 28 now), Andraea expects the number of students receiving meals to rise above the 86,000 meals provided last year.

“Last Monday (June 15) was the first day of the summer meals program, and it was a crazy day,” she said. “People are still trying to figure out where the sites are. Although we sent home fliers telling about the program, some families still haven’t gotten the word about the meals. As we move through the summer, there will be more and more children coming to the sites for lunch.

USDA guidelines stipulate that participants must eat their meal at the site. No meals can be taken off site.

No application, registration or proof of residency is needed to participate. Any child age 2-18 years may eat a meal at any of the open sites in the county.