Horry County Schools is now offering free hot meals to students in need over the summer.
This is the first summer the school district is offering free meals to any students who need them at five locations – Myrtle Beach High School, Conway Middle School, Ocean Bay Middle School, Loris Middle School, and St. James Middle School. Meals are available at any of those schools from Monday through Thursday, between 10 and 11 AM.
“No costs, no questions asked. Anyone under the age of 18 is welcome to eat with us,” said Director of School Food Services Kim Johnson.
According to Johnson, the need for the food program is apparent. Of about 44,000 students in the school district, almost 60% receive free or reduced meals during the school year. 17 schools in Horry County just started distributing free breakfast and lunch in the 2017-18 school year, through a USDA program for schools in low income areas.
“Even though it’s a small meal, one meal, it’s still helpful. Families are making just enough to make basic rent, and housing needs not to have extra food just hanging around the house,” she said.
The USDA reimburses Horry County Schools for the costs of the meals. Conway Middle School Cafeteria Manager Nicole Breece says there are never any leftovers.
“So many kids come up and get extra, and it does, it breaks my heart because I know these children need it and I wish we were here for a longer timeframe than four weeks,” she said.
Johnson hopes to expand the program next summer by offering meals at more schools throughout the county, and eventually delivering food to students.
“Bringing the meals to them to there’s no worry about transportation, trying to get to a school to receive a meal. So we can actually go out into the community,” said Johnson.
The program currently feeds about 100 students who may not have had a meal otherwise, but Breece said she hopes to feed more.
“The lack of transportation is a factor. In this area, in these few blocks around here, I can only imagine how many children could do so well with this,” Breece said.
Conway, Loris, Ocean Bay and St. James Middle Schools will continue to offer free meals till July 19. Myrtle Beach High School will offer free meals for students till August 3.