ANGIER - State First Lady Kristin Cooper visited McGee’s Crossroads Elementary School Wednesday morning to support a No Kid Hungry NC initiative.
Cooper ended her hour-long visit to the school by having lunch with students in a crowded cafeteria. The wife of governor Roy Cooper interacted with children and shared a nutritious meal that was the focal point of her visit.
“We’re here to celebrate National School Lunch Week,” Cooper said. “It’s something that we really believe in, is making sure that kids are fed. It’s always great to see the kids so enthusiastic. This is much different than what I remember from school when you had one choice. They try to make all the choices appealing to the kids and give them plenty of choices.”
No Kid Hungry NC is part of a nationwide campaign aimed at combating hunger and poverty. The initiative focuses on ensuring students receive a healthy breakfast, summer and afterschool meals, and helps educate parents on how to craft a healthier diet for their children. Share Our Strength, a nonprofit, launched No Kid Hungry in 2010.
“The first lady has been very supportive of school meals,” said Lou Anne Crumpler, state director of No Kid Hungry NC. “With No Kid Hungry, she has put in a lot of time and energy and really led the cause. We really appreciate the First Lady and her staff coming out and helping support this idea.”
Aspects of the program include making breakfast part of the regular school day. According to studies, children perform better and attendance increases when schools offer breakfast in the morning.
Many children across the state rely on school meals for their daily nutrition and are at a disadvantage during summer months. No Kid Hungry works with schools and community organizations to provide summer meal programs for children who may not receive daily nutrition at home.
“A lot of children rely on school lunches for a lot of their calories,” Cooper said. “It’s hard for a child who is hungry to learn.”
A study conducted by No Kid Hungry found that 59% of low income families said it was difficult to feed their children after school, meaning lunch often is the last meal some students eat in any given day. The afterschool meals initiative helps schools obtain the necessary resources to provide this service to area families.
“We work with trying to create greater access to federally funded meals for kids who need them,” said Crumpler. “We try to help kids find their way to school breakfast, school lunch, afterschool meals and summer meals. We all want the best for our kids and school nutrition is a way that kids can get reliable, nutritious, meals and they can get them at school. You have people who really care who try to make these meals available for kids.”
A nutrition education program called Cooking Matters helps teach parents how to prepare healthy, affordable meals. Parents can participate in cooking classes and learn about smartphone apps and other free resources to better meet their children’s nutritional needs.
For more information, visit nokidhungry.org.