Children Healthy Eating on Weekends (CHEW!)


The Problem...

Childhood hunger in Onslow County is rampant. Kids without adequate food over the weekend often suffer from stomachaches, the inability to focus, chronic absences, and frequent headaches. Long-term food insecurity can also result in behavioral problems, lower physical functions, and depressive disorders, especially in adolescents.

The Call to Action... 

When staff at Dixon Elementary noticed these tell-tale signs in their students, they realized they must act! The PTO, business leaders, area churches, local nonprofits, and United Way met and developed the CHEW! Program to respond to this urgent need.

How it Works

The CHEW! Program assists children in our community by providing backpacks filled with child-friendly, easy to prepare meals over the weekend. Every week, volunteers from the community pack the backpacks, which are distributed to children on Friday. Since it’s creation, schools across Onslow County have been looking to replicate this successful model.

Thirty-Five schools currently operate as a CHEW Site: Bell Fork Elementary, Blue Creek Elementary, Carolina Forest Elementary, Clearview Elementary, Clyde Erwin Elementary, Coastal Elementary, Dixon Elementary, Dixon Middle, Dixon High, Early College, Heritage Elementary, Hunters Creek Elementary, Hunters Creek Middle, Jacksonville Commons Elementary, Jacksonville Commons Middle, Jacksonville High, Meadowview Elementary, Morton Elementary, New Bridge Middle, Northside High, Northwoods Elementary, Northwoods Park Middle, Onslow Virtual School, Parkwood Elementary, Richlands Elementary, Richlands High, Southwest Elementary, Southwest Middle, Southwest High, Stateside Elementary, Summersill Elementary, Thompson Early Childhood Center, Trexler Middle, White Oak High, and Zeca.

How Can YOU Help? 

CHEW! is in need of food or monetary donations to stock and maintain supplies of non-perishable food items that will provide nutrition for children each weekend.  Food donations may be dropped off at at any of the participating CHEW Schools or at the CHEW house, located at 8 Ruth St.  You can also make a tax-deductable donation to United Way of Onslow County and designate CHEW! as the recipient. As a Partner Agency of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, United Way is able to purchase specifically-needed food items at reduced costs, which allow for donations to go farther. Lastly, you can host a food drive at your church or place of work. Boxes and helpful hints can be provided!

Sponsor a Child
Sponsor a child by adopting a backpack

  • Sponsor a Child- 1 Week: $9.00
  • Sponsor a Child- 1 Month: $36.00
  • Sponsor a Child- 6 Months: $216.00
  • Sponsor a Child- 1 Year: $432.00

Food Donations
Non-perishable child-friendly foods and easy to prepare meals are always needed. (For Safety Reasons, please do not donate glass items)


  • Pop-tarts
  • Individual Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Individual Pancake Mix
  • Instant Grits
  • Cereal Bar


  • Canned Soup [Chicken Noodle, Tomato, Potato]
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly (in plastic jars)
  • Ravioli / Spaghetti-o's
  • Crackers
  • Canned Fruit/Fruit Cups
  • Snack Bars/Fruit Snacks


  • Spaghetti / Sauce
  • Canned Vegetables [Mixed Vegetables, Corn, Green Beans, Peas, Carrots]
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Complete Meal Boxes/Boxed Meals
  • Canned Chili
  • Beef Stew
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Canned Meat (Tuna, Chicken, Ham)
  • Individual Instant Mashed Potatoes

Host a Food Drive

Host a food drive at your church or place of work. Boxes and helpful hints can be provided!

Participate in one of our Food Drives at Walmart on Yopp.

August 18th from 10am - 6pm

November 19th from 10am - 6pm

February 10th from 10am - 6pm

May 18th from 10am - 6pm


Contact Shelly Kieweg, Community Impact Director at (910) 347-2646 or email for additional information. To make a monetary donation, click here, or mail your donation (designated to CHEW! and/or the CHEW school ) to United Way of Onslow County, PO Box 5125, Jacksonville, NC 28540.

Visit our CHEW Facebook page for updates and more information -

Download a brochure on the CHEW! Program