Opinion: Many kids go hungry during summer months, Community Lunch Program for Kids Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville Area director says
To the Editor:
Remember those carefree days of summer vacation that were filled with days of swimming and freeze tag and nights of sleeping out under the stars and catching fireflies? You were free from school and homework and you thought you had the world by the tail.Unfortunately, this is not true for many children in our area. Summers are not carefree. Many children are hungry, as they are forced to go without the free/reduced breakfast and lunch, that they receive when school is in session. Though this safety net is there during the school year, it evaporates during the summer months and other school breaks.
The Community Summer Lunch Program for Kids has found a way to ease this burden for families by offering boxes of breakfast and lunch food items for these families at nine different distributions throughout the year, (February, April, June, two distributions in July and three distributions in Au
gust, as well one in November.) We have also become a registered non-profit under the 501 (c) (3) umbrella of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of Norwood, New York and we have recently affiliated with the Food Bank of CNY, so we can receive USDA food (free), as well as food at a nominal price for our families.
Each distribution involves approximately 65 families with over 180 children, and costs between $800.00-$1,000.00. We provide each child with the equivalent of 10 meals, five breakfasts and five lunches (as per the guidelines of the Food Bank of CNY). Hence, the amount of food given to each family is based on the number of children in the family. We figure the cost per meal is approximately $.50 or $5.00 per child for each distribution. And because of our affiliation with the Food Bank of CNY, we must provide a specific number of items from each of the different food groups. This is not snack food; each box contains fruits, vegetables, proteins and grain products.
We raise money for our program through grants and donations made by churches, businesses, civic groups and individuals. We pride ourselves on the fact that every penny, of every dollar donated is spent on food for children. We have absolutely NO overhead. NO paid staff! All extras such as storage, transportation, printing and mailing costs are donated by volunteers. To say that we are a bare bones operation is an understatement!
When we started this program in July of 2016, we had 24 families with 51 children. For June distribution we have 64 families with 185 children signed up. The need is out there, and it continues to grow!
An interesting fact about our breakfast/lunch program, is that most of the children involved come from families of working parents who are getting by, but having difficulty providing food for their children when school is not in session.
I have written this letter for three reasons; 1. To make people aware of the dilemma that many families face when school is not in session. 2. To let people know that this problem can be addressed at a grass roots level in their own community. And 3. To provide people, who would like to support our program, with an address to which they may send donations: Community Lunch Program for Kids, 42 South Main St., P.O. Box 225, Norwood, New York 13668
If you have any questions or feel that you need more information about this program, please feel free to call Wendy Chambers at 315-212-0520.
The Community Lunch Program for Kids Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville Area director