By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the school is out, many students miss out on a significant source of nutrition: school breakfast and lunch.
The Food Bank of South Jersey, using a $100,000 budget, is reaching out to children this summer.
Every weekday morning, dozens of volunteers turn the Pennsauken Youth Athletic Association into a kids’ lunch factory.
Volunteer Denise Cyphers, a retired special education teacher, is there every week. She knows when school’s out, kids lose school lunch.
“Children are hungry through no fault of their own,” Cyphers said. “Those meals go away, and they could go without eating.”
So these volunteers pack one thousand lunches and nearly 600 breakfasts every day for 23 campsites and day cares in a three-county area.
One of them is Saint Cecilia’s Little Angels Summer Camp.
Joe Njoroge, COO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, says, “This center, we’re feeding 75 children, and we’re providing them with a daily breakfast and a daily lunch.”
Vickie Caracciolo, of Saint Cecilia’s Little Angels Summer Camp, says, “We could never afford to feed all these children ourselves.”
Caracciolo adds that the healthy food is a far cry from what kids brought last summer.
“A lot of times, kids would get dropped off here and they would just have a bag of chips, a donut. That could be the whole day’s food,” she explains.
Caracciolo estimates the free meals are worth thousands of dollars, a big savings for a camp and a big boost for a child.
“You look at them and the smiles on their faces, they’re ready for the rest of the day,” says Njoroge. “And that’s a great feeling.”
The Food Bank of South Jersey hopes to be reimbursed by the state for the cost of the program, but they can’t pull it off without volunteers. They say they always need more.
For more information about how to sign up, visit: foodbanksj.org/HowToHelp/DonateTime