Summer is here and while many families are looking forward to vacation, thousands of families are scrambling to figure out how to put food on the table over the next three months.
Close to 300,000 students in the Delaware Valley are enrolled in the school meal program that provides free and reduced lunches during the school year.
Families that participate in the school meals program may struggle to put more food on the table this summer to feed their children to cover the missed meals, which is why Philabundance is gearing up to provide more food to families with children this summer.
“Philabundance is trying to increase visibility of the issue of hunger in children during the summer time,” said Marlo DelSordo, director of marketing and communications of Philabundance. “The need of food in the summer really spikes. What we are trying to do is to engage the community to donate more food and do more food drives so that we can stock the shelves and be ready to distribute the increase in food that’s needed for the children in the Delaware Valley.”
In Philadelphia, School District budget cuts will reduce the amount of programs offered in the summer, further reducing the availability of meal programs for many children this year.
Only 10,000 students will be enrolled in summer programs this year, compared to 19,000 last year, according to Philabundance.
While in the suburban counties, meal programs are very difficult to access and some families may have to travel far to get to programs that offer these meals.
“Summer is a tough month for families in our region as well as for the hunger relief organizations trying to keep up with the ever increasing demand,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “A family of four with two school-aged children who participate in the school meals program need to provide 40 more meals every month this summer, which adds $110 to $125 to the monthly grocery bill, which is just not feasible for many families across the Delaware Valley.”
Philabundance and hunger relief organizations across the region tend to see an uptick in the amount of families going to them for food because children are out of school while food donations tend to drop causing a strain on the charitable food network.
“Children are the most vulnerable population besides the elderly, when it comes to not getting the proper nutrition, so I recommend that families look into recreation centers because a lot of summer feeding programs are registered there,” DelSordo said. “We also are still looking for volunteers to help with the distribution with the food. The reality is while many families are taking vacations this summer, hunger itself does not take a vacation. It is key for all of us to work together to provide food for children and families who are in need of food this summer.”
For more information on the Philabundance summer meal program call (888) 319-3663 or visit Philabundance.org/summermeals.