MOREAU — For nine months of the year, the Moreau Community Center sends food home with children each weekend.
In the summer, school is out, so the backpack food program ends too. But what about those hungry children?
For years, it has bothered officials at the community center. Now they are piloting a new summer lunch program to fill the gap.
“We’ve recognized this need for many years,” said Kelly Obermayer, the center’s director of development. “We notice an increase in our food pantry (need) in the summer. The mother who has a limited food budget, now the children are home three meals a day, seven days a week.”
This summer, the “Summer Lunch Bunch” is depending on volunteers and donations. If it goes well, the center can apply for grants next year.
For now, Obermayer is hoping for enough support to keep the program running all summer.
“Our goal, our mission, what we hope to do, is feed these children right up until school starts,” she said.
The program will start June 26, running from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Unless money or volunteer help dries up earlier, it will end Sept. 1.
Children will be able to pick up lunch at the community center and eat it there or take it with them. Lunches will be bagged for easy travel.
“Most days it will be a cold lunch,” Obermayer said. “There will be hot dogs sometimes, a pizza day sometimes.”
Other days, there may be sandwiches. Lunches will come with sides, including items like pudding cups and fresh fruit. Hannaford will donate some food toward the program, but the rest will have to come from private donations.
“We want to stay nutritionally balanced,” Obermayer said. “It’ll also depend on what we get in donations.”
She is also arranging for activities, run by volunteers. The library may run some programs. A local trainer for seeing-eye dogs has expressed interest as well. The lunch room has a foosball table, and other games will be available.
What there won’t be is an application. All children, through 12th grade, will be welcome.
“We’re not doing a systems check at the door. We are not going to check financial statements,” Obermayer said. “We want the children to feel welcome.”
She’s guessing about 40 children a day will come for lunch. But until it begins, she has to be ready for anything. And she needs help.
“Volunteers are key,” she said. “Without volunteers, most of our center would not happen.”