An area program is asking for donations to help ensure area children get fed on the weekends.
Through a lot of donations and volunteered time, in-need Onslow County children are sent home with backpacks full of food to fill their plates on the weekends. CHEW, or Children Healthy Eating on the Weekends, provides food for those children through donations and buying in bulk, said April Priester, vice president of Financial and Operational Development at United Way, which operates the program.
Most of the students in the program are on free or reduced breakfasts and lunches, which they would be without when school is let out. During the holiday season, children were given more food than normal to tide them over the long school breaks, Priester said. Due to that, Priester said the food stash that fills their backpacks has dwindled.
“There’s such a significant need right now,” Priester said.
While CHEW was recently stocked with canned vegetables, their supply of canned meats and fruits is in need of help, Priester said.
Traditionally, canned meats and fruits are donated less because of their higher prices, but they are needed more because families, when looking to get more food for their money, gravitate toward the inexpensive items. The greatest needs right now is for canned meats, like tuna, chicken, Vienna sausages, spam, and corned beef; fruits in cans or plastic cups; macaroni and cheese; and breakfast items, like grits, Pop-Tarts, breakfast bars and oatmeal.
CHEW also collects canned soups and pasta like SpaghettiOs, Beefaroni and ravioli for the high protein contents.
Monetary donations are also accepted; and when there is a depletion in one section of the pantry, CHEW uses the funds to buy those food items in bulk at reduced prices.
Donations can be brought to the United Way of Onslow County office, located at 403 N. Bayshore Blvd. in Jacksonville, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call them at 910-347-2646 for larger donations to be picked up.