See what one Apex elementary school is doing to help children in need of meals get them when they are not in school.

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Every day, there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive and it works to get nourishing food from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – to people in need.

1 in 6 children struggles with hunger, and there may be millions of kids across the country that are not getting the nourishment their bodies need. Research demonstrates that children from families who don’t know where their next meal may come from are more likely to have lower math scores and repeat a grade, among other challenges. Kids at risk of hunger may be less equipped to reach their full potential as they engage with the world around them. And studies show that children from homes that lack consistent access to food are more likely to experience developmental impairments in areas like language, motor skills, and behavior.

According to 22 million children receive free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program during the school year. But when school is out for the summer only 3.76 million may receive these. This gap is the result of various barriers experienced during the summer, including a lack of access to meal sites, insufficient program awareness, and limited resources when schools are closed.

The Feeding America network of food banks operates summer food service programs that seek to close this gap and help meet the needs of low-income children and their families who face hunger in the summer by providing them with nutritious meals and snacks when school is not in session and on weekends when school is in session. Today, bags of food are assembled at more than 160 local food banks and then distributed to more than 450,000 children at the end of each week.

In North Carolina, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle reroutes food that would otherwise be discarded or thrown away. This food comes from retail food donations, the Food Shuttle Farm, volunteer food drives, and field gleaning. It feeds people through programs such as BackPack Buddies, Mobile Markets, and School Pantries. Its BackPack Buddies program provides children from low-income households with nutritious groceries for the weekend when free school lunches and breakfasts are not provided. The Food Shuttle works with each school system and individual schools to identify need.   Each BackPack Buddies bag includes enough food for six meals and two snacks.

On a more local level, Olive Chapel ElementarySchool in Apex is doing what it can to see that children in need get help with its own KidsCorps & Food 4 Kids programs..

“KidsCorps” was implemented at Olive Chapel after it was recognized that some of the children there were already making individual contributions in their communities and it was desired to foster and further develop their leadership skills. The school’s KidsCorps, is now a club for 4th & 5th Grade students that are interested in serving others through leadership development and the club also tries to create an awareness of the needs of others locally, nationally, and internationally. There are also opportunities for the club to partner with local, national, and international agencies to provide service opportunities to those in need.

“Food 4 Kids” is a program within KidsCorps that was originally modeled after similar programs throughout the US and also involved research with Feeding America on a National lever and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle on a local level. During this research it was determined that many schools receive food bags from churches with programs or are part of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Backpack Buddies program. Olive Chapel’s Food 4 Kids program now provides a weekend supply of nutritious food for students when school lunch and breakfast is unavailable over the weekend. Each food bag contains 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 snacks, and 1 can of vegetables and 1 can of fruit. All food is nonperishable and provided to children free of charge and it is the objective of this program to support the health, behavior and achievement of every student that participates. 

This program is primarily funded with donations by the school’s teachers and their families. The program also partners with Leith Volkswagen of Cary who helps when supplies are getting low.

Going forward, the program recognizes the significant number of children on free & reduced lunch in their school, and it is working on how to better educate families that may be in need about this program so they can be helped.  And as Olive Chapel is a year round school, one of its goals is to one day have enough food in their pantry so it can help provide food during Track Out for those kids participating in this program. Another goal is to have the school’s garden club grow vegetables that can at some point be add into the bags when this freash produce is available. 

If you would like more information about the Food 4 Kids program at Olive Chapel Elementary or would like assistance in starting your own program at your church, school, or civic organization, please contact Whitney Ludlow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give her a call at 919- 656-3308