Salute Our Heroes: Volunteers make summer meal programs possible for kids

Volunteers make summer lunch programs possible by taking actionable steps toward ending child hunger.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 5:25 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - This week we tip our hats to the volunteers that make kids summer lunch programs possible.

Summer lunch programs are essential for children who may not be able to get a meal elsewhere consistently, which creates implications when it isn’t in session.

The USDA’s summer meal program helps get kids meals during breaks as well as other local organizations and their partnerships within the community who facility their own meal programs.

Without these folks with their feet on the ground taking actionable steps to reducing child hunger, none of it would be possible.

Carolyn Hines runs the Westminster Presbyterian summer lunch program. She, along with her team of volunteers, is able to feed hungry kids in the College Hill area and beyond.

“We have a lot of volunteers, about 25 volunteers,” she said. “I’m here every day but they love to help. It’s never a problem getting help and I’m grateful for that and their grateful, it seems, for the opportunity to help to help serve our children.”

Children visiting Westminster can also enjoy games, crafts, and social time with others. Westminster currently offers free lunch to children 1-18 years old but will begin serving free meals to families, regardless of age, on June 10.

Jodi Ladell helped with lunch programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and now volunteers her time at Tecumseh North elementary school serving meals to hungry kids.

“It’s important that the kids that you know don’t have the opportunity to have lunch or whatever are able to come and get something,” she told 13 News. “A lot of the parents are appreciative that we offer this and probably helps them out a lot.”

More information about free summer lunch programs can be found on the USDA’s website.