For the second year of Carolina Hunger Initiative’s #SummerMeals4NCKids project, we expanded our work to include student interns embedded in school nutrition programs across the state. These interns worked on the Summer Nutrition Program, which provides healthy meals at no cost to kids via thousands of sites in North Carolina. Take a look at the stories and lessons they brought back from their experience.
This internship opportunity allowed me to touch the lives of more than a hundred children while learning more about food security. Throughout the month of July, I worked with Craven County Schools in its nutrition department to help serve meals to kids through the Summer Food Service Program.
“I was so excited to take on this opportunity to reach out to the local communities I was familiar with and address the issue of food insecurity.”
I was assigned to AH Bangert Elementary School in New Bern. There, I assisted the school’s cafeteria manager, Michael Borras, and staff in packaging the school’s breakfasts and lunches. Then, I distributed the meals to not only the children but also their families in nearby low-income neighborhoods. The first week, we served up to 70 meals. In the final week, we served a record 120 meals.
I pursued this internship when I saw one of the participating counties was my home county of Craven. I was so excited to take on this opportunity to reach out to the local communities I was familiar with and address the issue of food insecurity. As someone involved in faith-based organizations both in New Bern and Raleigh, I also enjoyed the opportunity to donate food to local churches such as Abundant Life Miracle Center in New Bern. For these reasons of giving back to my community, I believe that this internship was a great fit for me.
” I have a new appreciation for the importance of the work that school nutrition staff does year-round.”
This internship helped me develop new skills for the food service industry. The skills can be beneficial as I aspire to careers within the field of nutrition that may utilize the preparation and handling of foods in environments such as a hospital or athletic facility. I’ve also been reminded not to take what I have for granted. Some of these families do not know when their next meal will come, and as I stop by their homes, I can see that the meals make their days brighter. I have a new appreciation for the importance of the work that school nutrition staff does year-round.
John Paliotti is an undergraduate student at NC State University.