Summer offers thoughts of being outside, plenty of fun, and for kids: no school or homework. But for parents, this break in the schedule can be problematic for a variety of reasons. For low-income families, summer can mean one especially big challenge.
During the school year, free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs provide valuable nutrition for the families and students who qualify. But what happens in the summer, when kids don’t have access to those meals?
It is often hard to put extra food on the table for their children. Families such as these may rely on food pantries to supplement their nutrition needs all year long, but it is particularly true in the summer.
Dorothy*, a single of mother of three children, is a regular at the Emergency Relief Association Food Pantry in Levittown. She has been coming to the pantry every month for three years. She was looking for work when she began coming to the pantry. Though she now has regular employment, her salary doesn’t always stretch as far as she needs.
She is grateful for and appreciative of the pantry and always thankful to the pantry volunteers. She often mentions how the pantry makes it possible for her to continue to feed her family. With three children, the summer without the school breakfast and lunch program makes things tough.
Unfortunately, the summer is also the time when food pantries are their emptiest. That is why projects such as Bucks Knocks Out Hunger are so important. This program helps stock the pantries with pre-packaged, nutritious meals, brings in fresh produce from local farms, and fills in nutritional gaps by making it possible for pantries to obtain lean proteins and dairy products.
Local produce comes to the pantries through partnerships with Delaware Valley University’s Hope of the Harvest Chartible Garden and Rolling Harvest Food Rescue. These farms work to provide fresh, nutritious, and sometimes even organic, produce to the pantries at an extremely lost cost.
Dorothy*, our mother of three, has remarked very positively about the selection of fresh produce the ERA pantry has been able to offer recently. This selection helps her keep her family healthy, even when it’s tough to make ends meet.
What You Can Do
These programs don’t exist without the support of Bucks County. You can help! Donate to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, volunteer your time at the meal packing event on July 24th, or spend the morning in the fields of Del Val’s Hope of the Harvest. You can make a difference for Dorothy and others like her who need your support.
*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.
About the Contributor: Joe Cuozzo is the Development Director at the Bucks County Opportunity Council. He earned the Certified Fund Raising Executive designation in 2010. He is a board member of the Board of AFP-Greater Philadelphia Chapter, Mater Dei Catholic School in Lansdale, PA, and the Lenape Valley Baseball Association.