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Free summer school meals in the Midlands

USDA grant money will allow for free meals to students under the age of 18 between June 12 and the end of July.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The summer months are almost upon us as school is wrapping up and graduation ceremonies are underway. And although school year learning is coming to a close, some parents rely on school lunches for their child's nutrition. 

Not to worry, because parents in the Midlands can still access meals for their children this summer. 

"Food brings people together and it's important that these kids get the proper nutrition that they need so they can thrive and that's our future right there," said Rion Skinner, Lexington Two food services general manager. 

From June 12 through the end of July is when summer feeding happens across the Midlands. 

Just because students are taking a vacation from school, doesn't mean nutrition takes a break. 

The USDA allots funding each year to reimburse school districts, non profits and local government agencies for feeding kids kindergarten through high school. 

Here in the Midland, that's all organized through the South Carolina Department of Education. Derek Phillips is the department's director of communication.

"We've certainly seen the number of sponsors decrease, and that of course impacts the number of students, children, that have access to meals," Phillips said.

According to the SC Department of Education, last summer, 50-60 organizations got involved with summer feeding across the state, serving around 1.4 million meals.

Skinner helps train these organizations to meet food standards like serving size and food requirements for breakfast versus lunch. 

"There are a lot of families struggling right now. Obviously you know the price of groceries has significantly increased and we just want to make sure that we're doing our part to support the community," Skinner said.

The State Department of Education explains families don't need to sign up for summer feeding. They just show up to the location with their ID and proof of school attendance. 

The Department of Education says they intend to release their full list of meal locations and times within the next week or so.

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