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Free summer meals available for children across SC

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Free summer meals available for children across SC

Jun 11, 2024 | 4:33 pm ET
By Abraham Kenmore
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COLUMBIA — South Carolina kids can eat a free meal at more than 1,300 sites across the state this summer, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

Last summer, participating groups served 3.2 million meals to children statewide through the Seamless Summer program, which provides meals at select public schools — essentially extending cafeteria operations through summer months — and what’s dubbed the Summer Break Cafe — served by recreation centers, churches, camps and nonprofits, according to previous reporting in the SC Daily Gazette.

This year 1,350 locations will offer meals through one of the two programs — a number that is down from last year, when 1,483 locations participated according to Department of Education spokesperson Jason Raven.

The program is federally funded and administered by the state. Anyone under 18 can receive food at the locations.

Raven said the department is seeking more sponsors next year. Organizations interested in hosting can find more information on the department website.

“Our commitment to the wellbeing of South Carolina’s children does not stop once school is out,” State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver said in a statement. “We are grateful to all our partners who have stepped up to partner with families to provide access to these nutritious meals for students across the Palmetto State.”

Earlier this year, however, Gov. Henry McMaster announced South Carolina would not participate in a federal program providing extra money over the summer for recipients of food assistance debit cards, or EBT benefits. That program would give people with EBT cards $40 more a month per school-aged child, up to a total of $120 extra.

States that did participate had to cover half the cost. McMaster said the program was a COVID-based effort and it was time to end it, a move that Democratic legislators condemned.

An unrelated budget proposal from Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy to eliminate the nominal cost some students have to pay for school lunches is still being considered by the General Assembly.

Residents can find meal locations and times at this map or by texting FOOD to 304-304.