It’s going to happen again next year!
At least that’s what the Nevada Summer Feeding Program task force hopes.
If you saw the story at the top of last week’s front page, you know that "Food That’s In When School is Out" was a success in Nevada this summer. The numbers shows that on the 16 days that meals were offered, 176 young people ate lunch at least one time. That means that 176 young people felt the need to have a good meal or meals - nourishment they might not have had if the program hadn’t started.
Programs like Backpack Buddies, which supplies elementary and middle school kids with food and snacks for the weekends while school is in session, have shown us that Nevada has a need to feed. The ongoing need for our community cupboard also shows that we have a need to feed. Food at First shows that we have a need to feed. So now, our community needs to step up and keep these things going.
Barb Mittman of YSS, the organization that sponsored the Summer Feeding Program, said the challenge in offering the feeding program again next year starts with finding additional volunteers. She said she has already started conversations with possible sponsors, and she needs to hear from residents who would be willing to serve on the task force and help plan for the 2014 program. Meetings will start in September.
Mittman said the task force intends to increase the number of days that lunch is available in 2014, and to continue to offer supervised and age-appropriate activities along with the meals. Therefore, there is a need for additional leadership for activities and more on-site volunteers. "Members of the task group and myself are available to talk NOW with service clubs, businesses and other agencies about what they can do to help in 2014," Mittman stressed.
As the person who oversaw, through YSS, this year’s Summer Feeding Program, Mittman said she was grateful for how the community embraced it. Not only did it feed children; it also fed the social well-being of children in the community by building relationships between them and the people who volunteered at the program. "We fed, we played and we read. We practiced science and math skills and modeled character. We connected with community leadership and dozens of volunteers, but the most exciting part is the NEW relationships that developed between and with the young people," Mittman said.
Mittman said the summer feeding program did more than fill stomachs, it reached into groups and neighborhoods to bring people and children together who might have never before crossed paths.
The program built community! Now, the program seeks more people in the community to get involved in helping it grow and be of service again next year.
If you have some summer time to spare, give "Food That’s In When School Is Out" some serious consideration. This is a program that is needed.