By Gena Ansell-Lande
Where Lunch Break is concerned, there is no such thing as the lazy days of summer. In addition to their facility’s full roster of daily services, their outreach programs are in full swing. Their primary focus is the food insecurity that is especially high during the summer months for children who go unmonitored when school is closed.
In tandem with other charitable organizations and local school programs, Lunch Break pools complimentary resources wherever it can. Most notable is the lunch fulfillment program, now in its fourth year. Bagged lunches are delivered to local schools for the children attending their summer programs. Focusing preeminently on this very real problem and its effect on our vulnerable youth, “Lunch Break will provide over 7,000 bagged lunches to children throughout the area between July 5 and August 5 alone,” said Tyrone Burr, executive chef at Lunch Break.
One primary vehicle of guaranteed food distribution is through the Red Bank School District’s Summer School programs for children ages five through 12. This is a composition of programs held at the Red Bank’s Middle and Primary Schools. Superintendent Dr. Rumage noted, “We are very grateful for this wonderful program.” The Red Bank Charter School is also a recipient of prepared bagged lunches to assist their programs, as is World Changers International, a National Youth Group Ministry that visits each summer, performing home repairs throughout Monmouth County.
Gwen Love, executive director of Lunch Break, says they are only able to do this because of the generosity of donations made by individuals, civic and community groups, businesses, and fundraisers. The food and funds raised by FoodStock, for example, will be parlayed into filling those bagged lunches. “The level of participation and community involvement has been very encouraging,” she stated. She praised Red Bank’s Foodtown as one example of a local business having taken a commendable initiative. At the checkout line, generous shoppers purchased a previously stuffed bag of fresh food for either $10 or $15. That bag would then be transferred onto a collective cart and delivered to Lunch Break for distribution. Foodtown also donated $1,500 in non-perishable food for the children’s lunches. It’s these community partnerships and generous donations that enable Lunch Break to meet the growing demand of food insecurity.
However, the demand doesn’t stop there. Lunch Break continues to provide daily services at its Drs. Parker Boulevard location in Red Bank. Daily meals are made fresh and served with an abundance of fresh fruit and greens from its gardens, generously donated and maintained by volunteers.
It’s no wonder donations are welcomed with such earnest gratitude. Monetary donations are especially appreciated now. This enables Lunch Break to stretch the dollar with volume purchases that allow for uniformity of fruits and fresh sandwiches in each lunch bag, a little brown bag that brings happiness into the face of a hungry child.
For more information on Lunch Break and how you can help, please visit www.lunchbreak.org.
PHOTO: Lou Scaduto Jr. – President, Food Circus Super Markets, Bonnie Featherstone-Johnson – Lunch Break Board of Trustees, Millie Jeter – Director of Administration, Lunch Break, and Joe Collison – Manager, Foodtown of Red Bank