by LaToya Brown, Agency & Programs Coordinator
The FRFB was able to distribute an astounding 32,000 meals to kids this summer through our Summer Food Service Program, formerly called Kids on the Go.
Summer Feeding 2021 was unlike any previous summer! Pre-pandemic, we enjoyed the gathering of hungry children opening their freshly prepared meals among the familiar faces of our friendly volunteers at our congregate sites. It was a joy to observe their delight in discovering what was in their bags and seeing their satisfaction in their findings. Then the pandemic hit, canceling indoor gatherings, canceling the sharing of fun activities, canceling Summer Feeding 2020.
Summer Feeding 2021 brought back the excitement of preparing delicious, nutritious meals for our hungriest little neighbors, but we had to make it safe and convenient for them to enjoy. Thanks to the waivers approved by the USDA, we were able to meet that challenge in several ways:
1. The congregate feeding requirement was waived allowing us to follow a grab & go distribution model. Parents were allowed to pick up meals for their children, even if their children weren’t present.
2. We were allowed to distribute multiple meals to each child at each distribution. This enabled us to distribute more food in fewer days, including providing breakfast which we hadn’t done before.
3. We were enabled to establish feeding sites anywhere we saw a need without some of the restrictions of pre-pandemic operations. This allowed us to reach more children who otherwise would miss out on this resource.
KOG provided lunch to the YMCA summer camp participants on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The meals were also enjoyed by children in the nearby community.
Ladysmith Community Center
Caroline’s Promise provided dedicated teen and adult volunteers who worked diligently to ensure every family coming to this site were served with a smile! Even 4-year-old Nya was excited to give to the community starting her log for community service hours.
Oxford Mt Zion
Oxford Mt. Zion in Caroline County has been such a wonderful faith-based partner in association with Caroline’s Promise. Families flocked to them because of the kind and generous way in which they distributed meals. Volunteers even delivered meals to local motels and trailer communities where hungry children lacked transportation to attend the site. Job well done!!
Eastland United Methodist Church
Long time Pantry Volunteer, Frances Vaughn, had been trying to partner with our Summer Feeding program for several years, unfortunately, the site she distributed at could never qualify. Thanks to the USDA waivers brought about by the pandemic, she finally got her chance! Kudos to Frances and Pam for your commitment to the children of our community!
Salem Church Library
Salem Church Library has been a favorite Summer Feeding site and a superb partner for several years and that hasn’t changed in spite of the pandemic. It also became a favorite site for volunteers eager to serve their neighbors facing hunger. Volunteer Site Supervisor, Pat Gosh, looked forward to each day of service so she could talk to the children and their families as she served. Pat said that she was surprised by the gratefulness and generosity of the families. They received pictures, thank you notes, and treats to show appreciation for their service each week.
Each summer, Pamela Curtis of Garrison Woods Better Tomorrows works diligently to create a fun, educational experience for the children of Garrison Woods. This summer was no different; children flocked to her site to receive meals and to enjoy fun activities. Pam says that she’s grateful to partner with Summer Feeding each year and the food is a welcomed resource for families who find it challenging to stretch their grocery dollars.
Stafford Junction really had a fast and furious summer! We provided 3 weeks of summer meals for their camp participants to enjoy. Stafford Junction is our only Closed Site, meaning they only serve children enrolled in their program.