Long Summer Days.

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Summertime is an expensive time for low income working families. When that final school bell this past June, there is no doubt that every child in Northwest North Carolina was elated—but for many parents, summer marks a time of real financial hardship. For these families, it is not a beach vacation they are trying to pay for: they are instead trying to find affordable childcare and enough food to feed their kids.


When we visited one of Second Harvest’s summer meals locations, we found out that when the math just doesn’t work, North Carolina families get creative.


Jack Colyer is holding his eight month old son in the shade of a huge walnut tree. Despite the oppressive heat, he is standing, shifting his position every few minutes so he can keep a watchful eye on a group of slightly older children, who are hula hooping and playing ball in Whitaker Chapel’s parking lot.


“My story is like a lot of people’s story: I can’t find work.” A year ago, Jack moved his family from the Outer Banks to Surry County with the promise of a job. But by the time they arrived, the job was gone. In a rural area and with no car, Jack walked to every business he could get to by foot. “But nobody was hiring,” he says, “I kept coming up dry.”


Relatives of Jack’s were in a different boat, but with their own struggle: they had jobs, but with summer approaching, they didn’t have enough money to put their kids in childcare while they worked. So, in exchange for a little help with the utility bills and food, Jack and his wife took in the extended families children for the summer—a total of seven children. “Basically, we figured we could help them keep their jobs and they could help us float,” said Jack. “It’s lucky we love kids!”


Anyone knows that seven growing kids are a lot to feed, however. That is what brought Jack, his wife, and all the children (two of whom are his own) to Whitaker Chapel this afternoon. Second Harvest’s partners at SEAMS work with volunteers to serve meals here to kids during the months school is out. The kids have just finished gobbling down a meal prepared by Second Harvest’s Triad Community Kitchen and served by SEAMS volunteers. “We really appreciate this help,” says Jack, watching the kids energetically dart around the playground after they eat. “Look at them go! Good food does wonders.”


As for Jack, he says he will probably bring his family back to the coast where he has another job offer – he is crossing his fingers that this one will stick. But they won’t go back until summer is over because he says he doesn’t want to leave the other families in a bind. “Family is everything. The economy is too rough for us not to have each other’s backs,” he says.

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#children #hunger #SurryCounty #feedingchildren #northcarolina #SEAMS #summermeals #HealthyFood #foodinsecurity #WhitakerChapel #TriadCommunityKitchen

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