CHEW Program helps decrease child hunger in Eastern Carolina

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Onslow Memorial Hospital workers packed bags full of nutritional foods and snacks to fight child hunger.

The Children Health Eating on Weekdays (CHEW!) program helps children and their families have a meal on their table.

Victoria Morales, a Physician Related Specialist at Onslow Memorial Hospital says, “We’ve been asking our employees and the community to come and donate canned goods for the CHEW! Program for the last month and a half.”

The program helps children and families in need when it comes to food security.

Patricia Everette knows what it is like to be on food stamps. Everette visits a food pantry whenever she needs food to put on the table.

“I don’t have my food stamps,” said Everette. “I have been cut, so a lot of things I don’t have at home, I can come here.”

In the State of the County Health Report, there are 13.4% of children and adults considered to be food insecure in Onslow County. If it were not for the food stamps and resources in the CHEW Program, Everette doesn’t know what she would do.

“I’ll be living off my $84.00 a month on food stamps,” said Everette. “That includes milk, cheese, stuff that we really need like certain meats that I couldn’t provide.”

However, Everette is not the only one who knows what it is like to not have enough food to eat. Shelly Keiweg, who works for United Way of Onslow County, says she’s been there.

“I was that child,” said Keiweg. “I know what it is like to be hungry, so I know firsthand the difference that we’re making in that child’s life.”

Keiweg shared with WITN that when she first started working, there was a child in the CHEW program that told her that if it were not for the program, her family would not have eaten that weekend. Keiweg holds that memory in her heart and says that is why this program is so important.

There were 750 bags packed Tuesday that will be sent out to 38 schools later this week.