Bridging the Gap, a community outreach organization, plans to reach out to food insecure kids in the local area with free lunches.
It’s the fourth summer in which the community outreach organization has sponsored summer lunch programs. This year will turn out the most lunches with 7,500 meals –150 lunches per day – being provided. Last year, the organization gave out 1,000 lunches to local children.
“We want to make sure that they have access to lunch during the summer during the week,” said Jennifer Nolder, director of development for Bridging the Gap. “Whereas the school was providing it for them before. We are also going to partner with Backpack Buddies so the kids will have access to food over the weekend. Every Friday the kids will take a backpack home with food for Saturday and Sunday. So we’re making sure that they are getting something to eat and they’re not missing out because school is out of session.”
Bridging the Gap will give out lunches every weekday, starting May 29- Aug. 2, with the exception of July 4. The program will serve lunches at Ruth Hill Elementary and C.J. Smith Park from 11-1 p.m.
“We looked at the areas of lower income and where some of those food insecurity pockets are the biggest,” said Nolder. “And that’s the reason we choose that specific location because there’s a need. A large percentage of the population at Ruth Hill is on free and reduced-priced lunch and suffer from food insecurity.”
Children who can be served range from the ages of 1-13, or middle school students.
Children are instructed to bring their parent or guardian the first day that they come to get a lunch. After that, the children do not need to bring anything.
The lunches are first come, first served.
According to Nolder, the organization increased the number of lunches they serve because they have run out of food in the past.
“It was very well-received by the community and especially by the families that it served,” said Nolder. “It gives a lot of groups a lot of opportunities to volunteer. We’ll have a staff member on site, but the program will be run by volunteers.”
The first week of volunteers will be members from public safety groups. Other weeks will include church volunteers. The program is also being funded by donors, church groups and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Volunteer opportunities are still available.
Bridging the Gap will have a kickoff party on May 29, and the organization will also have a “Top 2 Toe” event at the end of the summer. The “Top 2 Toe” event will provide children with clothes to go back to school with.
Activities will also be provided during the lunch giveaways.