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'There's a need': 2022 Summer Feeding ongoing through July 28

Published on Tuesday, June 21, 2022

students going through DFE cafeteria for breakfast
BCSD photos / Monica Kreber

As her children dined on a nutritional breakfast last week in Devon Forest Elementary’s cafeteria, Catherine Smith reflected on how the 2022 Summer Feeding Program has impacted her family – particularly with inflation.

Smith said grocery store prices are much more expensive than they were a year ago, or even two years ago.

“Feeding kids the same amount of food costs twice as much,” she said, “so it makes things a little bit easier on the grocery budget to be able to get them a few meals… (at) the school.”

(Plus, according to one of her children, the food is “yummy.”)

Video by Dan Michener / BCSD

Berkeley County School District’s ongoing 2022 Summer Feeding Program offers meals at no cost to students Monday through Thursday at different pick-up sites around the county (see list below). volunteers putting packaged food in van

The program will continue through July 28 at the listed schools, and it is geared toward all children 18 years of age and younger. Breakfast is served 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

During the school year, Jeannette Laidlaw serves as the child nutrition manager at Mount Holly Elementary, but for the next several weeks she is donning a new chef’s hat as the summer feeding manager at Devon Forest Elementary.

“I feel there’s a need, that we still need to help contribute to the community, to help as much as we can,” Laidlaw said, adding, “Some kids probably wouldn’t have anything to eat, or very little to eat, if we didn’t…have this program available.”

The summer feeding program looks a little different this year in terms of how families can get their meals. Last year, because of the pandemic, families were given pre-packaged meals served via a drive-thru system at the school sites. This year, children are able to come inside the building and then sit down and eat (meals will be hot, and children will need to eat at the site where they pick up their food).

“It’s a lot different versus the last two years with COVID,” Laidlaw said.

By 6 a.m. Laidlaw is already inside Devon Forest Elementary’s cafeteria getting ready for students to come through and pick up breakfast or lunch at some point during the day. Early morning setup includes making sure hand sanitizer is readily available, getting food in the oven, putting out ice and making sure all the freezers are at the right temperatures, among other checklist items. jeannette laidlaw cutting pizza

The summer feeding program actually serves more than daily walk-ins; Devon Forest Elementary currently has a couple of academic camps being held inside the building, and these groups of students get fed as well. Laidlaw is joined by a team of eight that works hard to not only cook and serve in-house, but to package meals that get delivered to neighboring schools to feed students participating at those schools’ summer camps; they deliver to Bowen’s Corner Elementary, Cane Bay Middle and High, College Park Elementary and Middle and Sangaree Middle throughout the week.

The Devon Forest Elementary site feeds about 75 to 100 (depending on the day) students in-house during the day, plus an additional 500 meals that get delivered.

“I like seeing the kids come in because we don’t get to see them on a personal basis during the school year because we’re always trying to get them fed,” Laidlaw said, adding that she has more of an opportunity to come out of the kitchen and talk to the students and parents while they are eating and check on them. “It’s kind of fun to see them on a different level.”

All National School Breakfast/Lunch Programs are required to meet the USDA Federal Guidelines. There are four meal components offered daily at breakfast (students are required to take three and one of them must be a fruit or a fruit juice) and five offered at lunch (three items must be taken and one of them needs to be a fruit or vegetable).

Last Thursday’s breakfast included a steak croissant, a choice of cereal, juice, fruit and milk. For lunch, it was pepperoni pizza (“Everybody’s favorite,” Laidlaw said) plus corn, fruit and milk.  Menus are available on the district website.

Laidlaw said she likes the feeling of impacting families who might be struggling financially.

“We know…that we’re still helping the community with feeding the kids and making sure they’re getting a nutritional lunch and a nutritional breakfast every single day…that way we know the kids are not going hungry,” Laidlaw said. “I know some parents’ situations (are) tough right now – times are tough for everybody.

“This just makes it feel like…we can contribute a little bit to help them out – just a little bit more than what they normally would be getting,” she said.

Summer Feeding locations (sites subject to change)

  • Philip Simmons Elementary
  • Goose Creek Elementary
  • Devon Forest Elementary
  • Cross Elementary
  • St. Stephen Elementary
  • Berkeley Middle
  • Westview Primary

Be sure to check this page regularly for updates.

Any church or nonprofit site interested in setting up as a meal location may contact Nancy Wieland @ 843-899-8771 or