Hospitality House to offer summer feeding program for area children

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: May. 22 | Modified: May. 22

With a soaring poverty rate and an increasing amount of Watauga County residents relying on food stamps as both a stopgap and a primary source to prevent their children from going hungry, local crisis agencies are stepping up this summer to provide some welcome relief.

Currently, Watauga County has the third highest poverty rate statewide, according to U.S. Census data.

“Right now, thousands of people in Watauga and surrounding counties struggle to provide adequate nutritional food,” said Allison Jennings, food and nutrition coordinator with Hospitality House of Boone. “These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food, especially in the summer.”

The Hospitality House’s Bread of Life Community Kitchen is launching several programs this summer to combat hunger and food insecurity.

This summer, the nonprofit emergency shelter is launching a free summer feeding program at the community kitchen of the Hospitality House for area children from June 16 to Aug 1. Meals will be served beginning at noon.

The program is made possible through a partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank and other food recovery programs, according to a Hospitality House news release.

Through the efforts of these organizations, the Bread of Life Community Kitchen will provide nutritious meals and other activities all summer long, free of charge.

The program is modeled after the Summer Food Service Program, which is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Perhaps most importantly, the meals will follow the MyPlate standards, which emphasize healthy, well balanced meals.

Additionally, cooking, crafts and exercise activities will be offered during this time.

Those who might be tired of eating out or looking for ways to stretch a meal a little further are encouraged to attend the Hospitality House’s Cooking Matters for Families class, which meets each Wednesday June 25 to Aug. 6, with the exception of July 2. This is a six-week course, which will meet from 2 to 4 p.m.

Cooking Matters for Families empowers families with the skills to stretch their food budget, so their children can get healthy meals at home. Participants learn to shop smarter, use nutrition information to make healthier choices and cook delicious, affordable meals, according to Hospitality House.

In addition to the upcoming programs and classes planned by the community kitchen, Hospitality House continues to offer three meals a day, seven days a week, which provides 12,000 meals each month through the community kitchen.

The Food Pantry provides additional food for 700 individuals each month. The pantry is open seven days a week, from 9 to 11 a.m. And 1 to 4 p.m.

Additionally, the community kitchen offers an internship program for residents to teach them real life skills for finding a job in the workforce. “Our kitchen is always looking for ways to expand,” Jennings said.

For more information on any of the Hospitality House’s programs, contact Jennings at (828) 264-1237.

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