This summer at sites throughout LA County, more than 3,000 children are able to receive a free, healthy midday meal every weekday. The Summer Lunch Program helps fill the meal gap for families whose children would ordinarily receive a free or reduced-price lunch at school.
Monica, 34, lives in an apartment in Rowland Heights with her family of four. Her husband works full time, while Monica works part-time for the school district on a seasonal basis. Her daughter,12 and son, 9 participate in the Food Bank’s Summer Lunch Program through Project Access, a local community resource center and Food Bank partner.
“Sometimes even with two people working, people can’t make ends meet,” Monica explains. Her family is currently doing alright, but their budget is tight and there have been times when things were even more difficult. “One time, my husband lost his job and this place was here for us,” she says. “Thank god that they have these kinds of programs here where they can help, especially since we have kids.”
Monica says her kids enjoy the food they receive and that the program helps her to save some money. “I would definitely say ‘thank you’ for thinking not just about yourselves but about people who really need help,” she says.
Teresa, 58, says the Summer Lunch Program helps her daughter to get nourishment when she is dismissed from her summer learning program. “It’s really beneficial for us and really a godsend for me,” Teresa says. “We definitely save money through this program.”
Providing enough food is half the battle, but of course, children need proper nutrition to develop and excel in their studies. Teresa tries to cook healthy foods but says sometimes it’s difficult to get her children to eat them. The meals provided through the program are nutritious and kid-friendly, so Teresa is confident that her daughter is getting enough of what she needs.
“There have been times when I didn’t know how I was going to provide meals or where my meal was going to come from. Sometimes towards the end of the month, or when other bills need to be paid there have been times we’ve been caught off guard,” Teresa says. “I am really grateful and appreciative of all those donors and the people who make everything happen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart from myself and my community because it does make a difference.”
Summer vacation can be a child’s favorite time of the year – a time to play, make friends and make memories. But summer is no fun for kids who are hungry. Without proper nutrition, children have less energy to play and are less able to benefit from summer activities and programs designed to minimize summer learning loss. Without the Food Bank, Project Access would only be able to provide a snack for the children in their program rather than a daily, nutritious meal.