Summer is a tough time for the nearly 340,000 food insecure New Jersey kids. Many of these children depend on the meals they receive at school and after school at our Kids Cafes, and they become vulnerable to hunger during the summer months.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey has been working with its partner charities across the state to provide these children with breakfast and lunch through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (see the map below). We are expecting to provide 180,000 meals this summer to fill the nutrition gap.
We recently visited one of our sites, a Boys & Girls Club in Bergen County, and we spoke with some of the children we serve. They all agree that food is the fuel they need to enjoy the summer months!
This Boys & Girls Club offers a camp with activities and healthy meals for the 200 children who come in every day. Michael Hosier, Director of Operations at the Lodi location, told us that 60 percent of the kids they serve live in households that receive some form of government subsidy.
Children at the club shared their favorite activities – from swimming to art sessions – and told us what the meals they receive mean to them.
“I like that you could have fun, meet different people [and] experience how to swim,” 9-year-old Doreen said.
She also explained how it feels when she’s hungry.
“I’m very exhausted, I get headaches, I feel tired [and] I feel lazy,” Doreen told us. “Then, when I get my food, I feel energized, woken up. I don’t have a headache anymore. I feel A-OK.”
Ethan, 8, told us the healthy meals they receive give him the energy he needs for the day’s activities. The same is the case for 8-year-old Branden, who said “if I don’t eat all day, I feel like my head starts to hurt [and] I have a stomach ache.”
Six-year-old Jason likes to play in the game room when he’s at the Boys & Girls Club. He also told us about the food he receives.
“The food is good,” he said. “They give us healthy stuff every day, and it’s good to eat it because you get more strong.”
“I see vitamins,” 8-year-old Steven said about the meals at the summer food site. “Like carrots give you vitamins that help you see and broccoli is good for you.”
All of these vitamins “help me be energetic,” Steven added.
Eight-year-old Sienna told us she enjoys coming to the camp, where she does “lots of different activities” and loves “making new friends.”
When she eats her meals, Sienna gains the fuel she needs to enjoy the day.
As she put it: “I feel like I could do anything!”