Finding a way to feed the children

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 06:11 PM

There are children in Henderson who are not being fed regular meals during the day, prompting a community-organized response that taps into federal grant funding for meals.

Infinite Possibilities Inc., is organizing breakfast and lunch distribution daily to children ages 6-18 during the workweek at Davis Chapel on Chestnut Street and at Devine Habitations on Orville Street.

At the Boys and Girls Club on Clark Street, Infinite Possibilities volunteers are handing out weekday lunches, and on Tuesdays in July a fourth lunch distribution point gets going next to Greater Little Zion Holy Church on Flint Street.

Kanika Tourentine, the founder and CEO of Infinite Possibilities, said the program is aimed at filling a need in summer for children who live in counties designated as at risk because of economic hardship.

There are children missing meals because of schools being out for the summer, according to Tourentine.

“The goal of the summer feeding program is to prevent child hunger during the summer months while they are out of school,” Tourentine said. “We afford the opportunity because the case for some is that they may not be getting a nutritious meal at home.”

Rev. Brenda Peace-Jenkins, pastor of Greater Little Zion, said the meal distribution program seeks to be wherever the need is greatest, apparently following up on areas where children listed for subsidized school meal programs reside.

“That seems to be what they base it on,” said Peace-Jenkins, who also is a city council member. “Some kids say school lunch is often the only meal they get during the day, and of course school is out now.”

Peace-Jenkins said there is a waning of parental responsibility in certain neighborhoods, especially because of more younger parents who are neglecting their children’s needs.

“I think we have a parenting issue,” Peace-Jenkins said. “Many are younger parents these days.”

Tourentine said the distribution of meals is done without any individual eligibility requirements beyond being Vance County children of school age, ages 6-18, who just show up at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and 12:30 p.m. for lunch.

“It is based on Vance County being rated as high risk,” Tourentine said.

The funding through federal Department of Agriculture office is administered through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, reimbursing the Infinite Possibilities corporation at a rate of $1 per breakfast and $3 per lunch served.

The grant funding allows Infinite Possibilities to purchase food and hire two part-time cooks, utilizing two from the Vance County Schools system who are available during the summer. Tourentine said the cooks also volunteer a balance of additional time.

About 70 meals are served each weekday at Davis Chapel, counting breakfast and lunch, about 50 lunches at the Boys and Girls Club and 55 counting both at Devine Habitations.

Tourentine said the program through Infinite Possibilities started last year, and they served more than 4,000 meals to children.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.