(pictured above: Ronald McDonald leads kids in a health and wellness program.)
A grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has expanded the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools summer feeding program.
Thanks to funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the school system had offered free breakfast and lunch to students of all ages at several schools from June 23 through today (Aug. 14). But because of limited funds, the meals were only offered Monday through Thursday.
A $32,000 RMHC grant announced Wednesday, Aug. 6 provided a food option on Friday. The Friday meal wasn’t to be dine-in like those offered Monday through Thursday. Parents could pick-up a take-out package – which included juices, fruit and healthy snacks – on Thursday for their children to enjoy at home on Friday. Officials say that up to 2,000 students enjoyed the food packages.
“We were really worried about what we would do (about feeding kids on Fridays), so this has been a life-saver,” said Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory. “To see no interruption at all to the service that we can provide to children and families is huge. We are grateful because we would not have been able to do it without their support.”
Parents with kids enrolled in a summer program at Konnack Elementary School were allowed to take home the packages on Aug. 6. Konnack, one of 20 schools where free meals are served Monday through Thursday, was where McDonald’s officials presented the grant to Emory and other school leaders. The kids also got a treat, as the iconic Ronald McDonald made an appearance to talk to them about fitness and nutrition. The colorful character had students stand to their feet to dance and jump rope. They were rewarded after the program with coupons for a free package of McDonald’s apple slices.
D.J. Britt, who owns and operates the McDonald’s on Reynolda Road, presented the check, calling the donation a perfect example of how a business/community partnership should work.
“My wife Terri and I do quite a bit with the school system, whether it be with the kids or McTeacher’s Night,” he said. “The summer school program was just another way for us to give back and to assist the school system with our children.”
Konnack Principal Shelia Burnette said the Friday lunch bags appeal to kids because they contain the kind of snack foods they like.
“To them, it looked like a snack pack, but it has the nutritional value of a meal,” she said. “… This filled a gap to keep our students sustained throughout the weekend and let them know that the community is caring and supporting them. It gives those parents that extra support and alleviates the stress that parents have about providing those other meals.”