What do children do for lunch in food-insecure households during the long, hot summer? With the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) and its expanding Summer Meals Program, more South Jersey children and teenagers were served nutritious meals – 238,986 meals served across 131 designated Summer Meals Program locations, with another 10,834 meals served by FBSJ’s mobile meals initiatives, including FBSJ’s School Bus Café.
Traditionally, the FBSJ’s Summer Meals program has teamed up with local summer and church camps, organized child care sites and more to provide much-needed nutritional meals to children throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties. Unfortunately, there are many children and teenagers in South Jersey whose families cannot afford to send them to these activities. To help bridge this gap, the FBSJ expanded its Summer Meals outreach this year to bring meals to children and teenagers through new, innovative approaches, most creatively and significantly FBSJ’s School Bus Café, a renovated school bus that has delivered healthy meals throughout Salem County for more than three years. During the summer of 2019, FBSJ again enlisted its School Bus Café, joined on the road by three refrigerated vans to increase the number of mobile summer meal deliveries throughout South Jersey.
Without free and reduced-price school lunches, and support food relief programs, many children across the United States experience crushing food insecurity and extreme hunger during the summer months. School breakfasts and lunches are vital ways to nutritionally supplement a growing child’s diet – during the school year. When the school year ends and summer begins, feeding programs necessary to keep South Jersey’s food-insecure children fed come to a close too.
Through FBSJ’s Summer Meals program, children receive breakfast, lunch and snacks for 10 weeks during the summer – critical nutrition needed by the youngest and most vulnerable of South Jersey’s population. While child hunger is a critical problem in communities throughout the United States all year long, it becomes of even greater concern during long, hot summer months – with the access to healthy school meals out of reach for our nation’s youngest population.
“Every child deserves to have access to healthy food – all year round,” shares FBSJ CEO Fred Wasiak. “The Food Bank of South Jersey is dedicated to focusing energy, time and resources to ensure nutritious meals are within reach of our region’s children when school is out.”
To learn about ways to get involved with the FBSJ’s Summer Meals Program and help feed food-insecure children in South Jersey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 856-662-4884.