Summer isn’t all about sand castles, white beaches and cold beverages on hot days, especially not if you are one of the 20,000 children who receive free lunch at school while it is in session or if you are the hard working parents of those kids that, come June, have to scramble to find enough food to put on the table while school is out. If their children are receiving a free lunch, likely they are also taking home a sack supper for later. During those 10 or 11 weeks of summer, parents, often times a single parent, spend double for weekly groceries than during the school year.
For The Pantry that summer means increased visits and visitors to The Pantry for food by some of our most vulnerable neighbors, households with kids. Not only is summer a tough time for these families, it’s a tough time for The Pantry too. Many social groups break for the summer, church attendance drops off, donors and volunteers go on vacation and often enough in the hurry to get to the amusement park or to a summer destination they forget to drop a check in the mail to help those in need. For us and for these families the next few weeks are crucial! We need your help to make sure our less fortunate neighbors get the help they need to feed their children well.
We are in year 2 of our participation in the Meet Up and Eat Up program. For this program we partner with the Grand Rapids Public School System and the USDA, filling the ‘grocery gap’ while the schools are in recess. Attendance for these programs are historically low, but not for the reasons that you might think. We managed to serve almost 900 meals last summer. Still, you might ask, “Why if there is such great need do parents not get their kids to these meal sites?” Honestly, many parents would love to, but they have to work. Sometimes we forget that many, many of those in need of food work full-time. Not only are many of these parents unable to bring their children to the meal program because they work, many of them are making just a few dollars too many to receive help with daycare. Without subsidized daycare, these parents have to make the hard choice to leave their under-aged child or children at home alone while they work. That is a scary reality. Let’s help to make sure that, at the very least, we can fill their pantries with the food they need.