JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Many families across our region will find it harder to put food on the table once school lunches end for the summer.
We found out a local organization trying to help families fill that gap are finding their own hands tied in a financial bind.
A 55-pound box of food is more like a weight off of Heather Turpin's shoulders, helping to feed her children over the summer. "With me just being on food stamps, every little bit helps," said Turpin.
Turpin was part of Good Samaritan's Ministries' summer food program last year when making ends meet without school lunches became a challenge. "It takes a toll, especially when you're out for the school year and stuff."
But this year, there may not be enough food to go around.
We found out most donations for Good Samaritan's summer food program come in during March and April when a grant will match those funds, but as of Friday, we discovered only 18 families of the 600 families organizers hope to serve are sponsored.
Executive Director Sarah Wells told us she's never seen community help this low for the program. "Very little has come in from the community since Christmas time," said Wells.
Just weeks until the first distribution, it's starting to show on the shelves. Typical lunch items like ramen noodles, tuna helper, fruit, and jelly aren't even stocked, because those donations aren't coming in.
We found out it costs just $35 to sponsor a family to receive one box of food for a month, and $105 for a whole summer.
Without more help, hundreds of families will be turned away. "That's a horrible thing to see and know that there are children who need this food and know that they're not going to have it," said Wells.
Sending children away without food would be a first for the program's history and one more struggle for families like Turpin's. "We just need the help," said Turpin.
If you would like to make a donation to Good Samaritan's summer food program:
You can send a donation to their office located at 100 N. Roan Street in Johnson City.
You can mail a donation to:
Good Samaritan Ministries
P.O. Box 2441
Johnson City, TN 37605
You can submit a donation online through PayPal by going to their website, http://www.goodsamjc.org/.
If you need more information or would like to volunteer, call (423) 928-0288.