MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The effort to feed thousands of low-income school-aged children across Horry County has gotten a big boost this year.
The number of distribution sites managed by Waccamaw EOC this summer has doubled. The organization currently oversees 28 different sites in Horry County, compared to 13 last year.
With United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding, the South Carolina Department of Education(SCDE) runs Summer Break Café across the state. The program provides children with free meals over the summer months.
Both groups find smaller organizations to run the individual sites.
Waccamaw EOC is one of the middle-man organizations in Horry County and reaches about 5,000 children each summer through the program, according it to its website.
Carolyn Williams, summer food program coordinator at Waccamaw EOC, said the program works from Little River to Surfside.
Williams said there’s a wide variety in distribution sites.
“Now some of [the sites] are just different little things like dance academies,” Williams said. “We got some churches. We got some gyms. You know wherever the need is and wherever people want us to go, we do.”
Free meals are passed out at 11 a.m. every weekday morning at the Sandy Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Volunteers prepare between 50 and 75 meals each day.
James Davis, a trustee at the church, said the church is always willing to help.
“We want the folks in the community and the city to know that the church is here if they need us,” Davis said. “We’re thankful that we can provide this space to help out with this food program.”
The church provides space for volunteers like Deonte Watts. Watts has been volunteering during the summer months for the past several years.
“It helps out a lot of people especially if your parents are in a bad situation or down bad,” Watts said. “Y’all can easily come up here and get fed, and I can help y’all out or somebody else from the church can help y’all out. It’s a way to give back.”
Watts hopes more people take advantage of the program.
“I wish more people would feel comfortable getting free lunches instead of letting their pride get to them,” Watts said. “Some people we can tell them, but it’s up to them to come up here. Don’t let your pride get to your head. Just come through.”
More than 6 million meals were provided to school-aged children in South Carolina last summer thanks to federal funding.
“With a fresh, new look and outreach, the SCDE strives to continue its goal of filling the nutritional gap and give students the meals they need and deserve,” SCDE said in a statement to News13.
Waccamaw EOC’s summer meal program runs through Aug. 6.
Find your nearest distribution site here.