EDITORIAL: CUOC’s summer program feeds hungry children

Aug. 01, 2014 @ 08:56 AM

Hunger is a serious issue for anyone, but particularly for children.

The physical and intellectual development of youngsters depends on good nutrition, and good nutrition depends on the right quantity and the right quality of food available to them.

Thankfully, starting next week, CUOC — Christians United Outreach Center, the Lee County agency that provides food, clothing and spiritual outreach to those in need here — is stepping up with the help of a federal initiative to provide free meals to children throughout the month of August.

CUOC’s Summer Food Service Program, launching from Jonesboro United Methodist Church and First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, is part of a government program to feed children who might otherwise not have affordable meal options during the months when children are typically out of school. Beginning Monday, and each subsequent Monday, Wednesday and Friday afterward through Aug. 22, meals will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Jonesboro United Methodist, on West Main Street in Jonesboro, and from 12:15-1:15 p.m. at First Calvary, located on Fields Drive. CUOC will send mobile units to the churches to serve the meals, which are put together with food provided by the state’s food bank system and a host of local organizations.

CUOC is accustomed to working and partnering with local churches and also serving as a distribution site; utilizing its resources and contacts to add meals for 75 or so children a few days a week might not seem like a major undertaking. But it is (and volunteers are still needed to make it happen; call Amie Stewart at (919) 775-7023 to find out more), and the partner churches seemed eager to lend a hand. Federal guidelines in place will help the churches and CUOC determine who’s eligible for the meals, but the main point of the program is to feed hungry children.

“In this community, there are a number of underprivileged children that live within a half-mile or so radius of us,” said the Rev. Thomas Smith of First Cavalry. “We thought it would be something where we could lend a hand to help supply something that would be needed for young people.”

The program ends just before school starts, but that’s about the time that the Communities In Schools of Lee County’s BackPack Pals program kicks off for the school year. (See Saturday’s “Take 5” for more about CIS and that program.) Together, they help ensure that young bodies and minds get adequately fed on days when kids aren’t in school.

Few of us know the experience of truly being hungry, but for those who regularly experience the sensation, it’s good to know organizations like CUOC and Communities In School are there to serve.