Summer vacation brings hot sunny days, trips to the pool and empty stomachs. During the school year, more than 300,000 Philadelphia-area students receive free or reduced-price lunches provided by their schools. But during June, July and August, these students lose access to these meals. The Weavers Way Food Justice Committee has been exploring ways to support these food-insecure students. Our concern is shared by Philadelphia Councilwoman Cindy Bass. “We cannot assume that children who are eligible for and receive free meals while in school are going to somehow find a place to get food while out of school during the summer,” she said in an interview. “It is incumbent on us to help bridge that gap and make sure children have access to healthy foods in the summer months.”
There are programs that support children during the summer, including Nutritional Development Services. NDS (www.healthymealsforchildren.org) sponsors 400-450 summer meal sites in Bucks, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties, helping to serve roughly 760,000 meals each summer.
“Although hunger is not defined by the time of year, summertime is often hard for many families, due to the general decline in food donations to cupboards,” said Brooke E. Mullen, assistant director for community relations at NDS. “We are able to help support children in the area as a sponsor of the Summer Meals Program; however, the demand for our cupboards’ services remains significant throughout the year.” For more info about NDS’s Community Food Program, which also helps provide food for community food cupboards, shelters and individuals throughout the area, visit www.communityfoodprogram.org.
One way you can support food-insecure students and their families in the summer months is by donating to local food cupboards. To help in this effort, the Food Justice Committee is hosting a Summer Food Drive July 7-9 at multiple Weavers Way locations — including Ambler!
We’ll be at the Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill stores from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Weavers Way’s Ambler office, 131 E. Butler Ave., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We’ll also be at Weavers Way’s Henry Got Crops Farm Market at Saul High School, 7095 Henry Ave., during market hours, noon-7 p.m. on Friday, July 7.
While we know hunger impacts every zip code, your generosity will benefit two local food cupboards: Mt. Airy’s Holy Cross Food Pantry (www.holycrossphl.org/service) and Ambler’s Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard, Inc. (www.community-cupboard.org).
In addition, July 11 Giving Tuesday in the stores will support the Holy Cross Food Pantry and enable the purchase of fresh produce for the families it supports.