COVE CITY — U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones walked around the Adelphia CDC Inc. site Wednesday talking with volunteers about their new program to provide children with a lunch six days a week while school is in recess for the summer.

Jones was on his annual August tour of District 3 and he wanted to see the Kids Summer Meal Program being offered in partnership with Bryant Chapel AME Zion Church, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is the greatness of America, and also a weakness,” Jones said, referring to volunteerism and yet the poverty that makes the programs necessary. “We should not be wasting money that is going around the world and should be spending it here.”

The effort in Cove City and other counties in Eastern North Carolina to provide decent meals for children when school is out of session is important, Jones said.

“One of the stories I tell frequently at civic clubs is if we can find $6 million to buy nine goats — that’s what happened with DoD (Department of Defense), buying goats in Afghanistan and they could not find the goats — why do we have to spend billions and billions in foreign countries and we can’t even account for how the money is being spent?" he said. "Why not take a little bit of that and help programs like this across America?”

Jones said he knew the dedication needed from volunteers to bring the program to the community.

“There is not one thing they would not do to see a smile on a child’s face,” he said.

There are many counties in Eastern North Carolina having to supplement what families can't do because many of them are not financially able to do what they would like to do for their children, Jones said.

Programs like the Food Bank are there to help supplement that need, but more needs to be done on a local level to support those programs, he said.

Priscilla Brown, who has brought her 11-year-old grandson to the Kids Summer Meal Program at the Adelphia CDC site at Bryant Chapel AME Zion Church every day since it started July 19, said she thought it was a wonderful program.

“It gives the kids a lunch,” she said. "A lot of them would not get lunch because their parents are at work.”

Brian Cornelius, pastor at Bryant Chapel AME Zion Church, said all of his members donate their time to help provide the meals and activities for the children. 

“The children have really grown attached to them,” he said. “The volunteers are like grandmothers to them.”

Ann Cherry, site manager from the Kids Summer Meal Program, said the USDA provides the food for the program through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. 

The program and volunteers are trying to meet the needs of the community where there is a 55 percent poverty rate in western Craven County, Cherry said.

As Jones was ending his visit, he went outside where about 30 children participating in the program were playing kickball or jump-rope. The congressman joined them, shot some basketball and played a little kickball.