PENNSAUKEN, N.J. – The Food Bank of South Jersey has kicked off their summer meal program, but this year they are doing it a little differently.
In only a few more weeks, 57,000 children in Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Burlington Counties are expected to be home for summer break, searching for something to eat during lunch time.
“During the 42 weeks of the year, they’re getting the free lunch and the free breakfast at school,” said Val Traore, president and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey. “But during the summer, lunch and breakfast go away.”
Once again, the Food Bank of South Jersey is partnering with organizations from around the area who are planning on hosting summer programs for kids.
Every year, volunteers send out pre-made meals to the Food Bank’s partners, which give the students a chance to eat multiple, nutritious meals.
“They’re really excited about it, a lot of the students actually do not get breakfast,” says Cheronda Frazier, the director of community engagement for the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium. “We know that for a fact that the students who are in the camp programs, [for] some of them this is their only meal. So for us, it’s a blessing.”
With a goal to feed 8,000 kids this summer, the Food Bank of South Jersey left it up to the community to decide which meals they want to see delivered to their summer programs.
“Let them choose what they want to eat, not us choosing for them,” says Traore.
For the first time in the Food Bank’s history, at Tuesday’s kickoff event, children from Macedonia Baptist Church helped the community partners decide on which meals and snacks to vote on, and weren’t afraid to share with the crowd which foods they like best.
“Apples and strawberries,” said one of the children.
“Pancake,” said another after seeing the breakfast display.
“I saw peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” a child mentioned.
“Uhhhh … a donut,” a little girl chimed in.
After the votes are tallied, and the winning meals will be announced this week, and be on their way to a child’s plate come June.
“We feel that is morally indefensible for any child in this country to go to bed hungry, and that is our mission; to make sure that that does not happen, at least not on our watch, and definitely not in South Jersey,” says Traore.
SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.