Health and well-being: Kids Eat Free at MUSC

June 10, 2024
Girl with brown hair holds up pieces of broccoli in front of her eyes.
A girl holds broccoli florets in front of her eyes. Marcus Chung Photography

As summer approaches, MUSC gears up to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Kids Eat Free at MUSC program. Since its inception by the Office of Health Promotion in 2015, this initiative has been a cornerstone of MUSC's commitment to addressing food insecurity in our community. Over the past decade, we have served over 42,000 meals, providing essential nutrition to children and teens during summer breaks.

Kids Eat Free at MUSC is a federally funded, state-administered program designated as the “Summer Break Cafe” through the South Carolina Department of Education. The program provides reimbursement to approved locations that serve free healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months when school is not in session.   

This year, as we commemorate a decade of service, we are excited to announce expanded service sites and a return to the “offer versus serve” model, enhancing the dining experience for participating children.

The offer versus serve model allows children to exercise autonomy and choice by selecting their meals from the hot food line in our cafe spaces. This approach not only empowers children but also reduces food waste, ensuring that every meal served contributes to our goal of fostering healthier communities.

  • University Hospital, Ashley River Tower and Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital will use this model in their cafe spaces, serving Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., during the summer break.
  • Keith Summey Medical Pavilion will continue to partner with the Lowcountry Food Bank to provide healthy meals Monday through Friday throughout the summer break, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

All sites are open to the community, except for the Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. MUSC does not require financial verification of need; all children 18 years and younger can participate in the program. Visitors, siblings or community members who meet this age requirement, regardless of their purpose at MUSC, can be served. We welcome and encourage MUSC employees to spread the message. If you see children on our campus during the summer, please encourage them to join us for lunch.

At its core, Kids Eat Free at MUSC is a testament to MUSC’s dedication to improving the health and well-being of our community. By addressing food insecurity, we are not only nourishing bodies but also nurturing futures.

As we celebrate a decade of service, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who have contributed to the success of Kids Eat Free at MUSC – our dedicated volunteers, compassionate food-service staff and committed leaders. Together, we have made a difference through compassion, community and collective action to shape a brighter, healthier future. 

Those interested in volunteering or learning more about Kids Eat Free at MUSC can contact Laura Nance in the Office of Health Promotion.