GARLAND — Inside Garland First Baptist Church, Brenda Cromartie and other volunteers enjoy watching local youths have fun outside their homes and enjoy a nutritious meal.
The Kids Summer Meals Program is underway and will continue through Friday, Aug. 10. It’s sponsored by The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the missionary auxiliary of the church.
“We think that it’s really beneficial to them,” Cromartie said.
Each day, an average of 12 students receive meals and enjoy activities such as visiting the local park.
“Even if we had only two or three, we needed to do it, because that was two or three kids that you’re helping,” Cromartie said.
Warren Holder serves as one of the volunteers in the program. He’s a deacon at the church and former deputy in Bladen County. During a Wednesday session, he taught students about civics, laws, citizenship and future goals. He also emphasized the importance of having programs such as Kids Summer Meals throughout the year.
“A lot of children don’t have breakfast or lunch, but we think they’re eating every day until they come to school,” Holder said.
He also feels that it’s important for the youngsters to stay busy during the summer and to interact with others.
“By them meeting with other children, it helps,” Holder said.
Cromartie finished training for the program and the church was approved by the state officials as the site for the summer. It started July 16. Cromartie said there’s a possibility that it will continue a few more days after Aug. 10, but an announcement has not been made.
Pastor Dr. Louis Hackett is pleased to see the program at the church.
“Anytime you can do something for the children over the summer, especially in a rural area, it’s really good for them,” Hackett said.
Like other volunteers, he believes it gives them options when they’re away from the school.
“If you can can take to show them some appreciation while they’re here, it’s good,” Hackett said.
Hackett hopes the program will continue in the future.
Children 4 to 18 years old are welcome to attend for free. Breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m., followed by lunch at 11 a.m. Garland First Baptist Church is located at 227 E. Fourth St. For more information, contact officials at 910-529-1361 or 910-299-0402.