No School Meals; Summer Feeding Programs Fill Void

Beginning this month, the city of Atlanta will offer free meals through a Summer Food Service Program. The free meals will be provided to children 18 years old and under at approved sites throughout the city. WABE’s Rose Scott reports that there’s a great need for these summer feeding programs.

Broadcast version of this story.

Since 2000, Publix has partnered with organizations that provide food as part of outreach services. Brenda Reid is the spokesperson for a three-state region of the Publix supermarkets. Reed said, “I did a ride along with MUST Ministries up in the Cobb county area. We rode around the community up there giving out sandwiches, chips, cookies to kids.”

Without these services, many Georgia kids would be in danger of missing meals they’d normally get at school.

Publix customers and employees are instrumental in the supermarket’s ability to help the agencies, says Reid. 

Reid said, “So, we pull up. She blows the horn and kids start coming from inside their homes to the van and they line up because they’ve done this before. And they get their bag lunches and a lot of them are the same kids all summer long.”

Add families, senior citizens and even veterans to the group says, Noreen Springstead, and hunger affects everyone. She is the Managing Director for the national organization Why Hunger.

“I would say the face of hunger in America is very much working class families. People that are struggling.”

Why Hunger partners with local organizations in nearly every state. The Atlanta Community Food bank is one of the partners. Springstead credits those agencies for really trying to fight hunger and poverty. Hunger is more common than you would think, said Springstead.

“Most of us know a neighbor, an aunt, a cousin, a family friend that is having trouble making ends meet because the economy has been difficult and jobs have are just not paying what they – what they were.”

In the 90’s, Springstead says nearly 30 million were identified among the countries hungry. Since then, that number has changed.

“Now it’s more like 50 million and when you talk about the seasonal needs around hunger we see real spikes in hungry kids during the summer.”