Sullivan County

Higher demand for summer feeding programs for children

Higher demand for summer feeding programs for children

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Summer time is a relief for most kids as a break from school, but for others it's a time when they aren't sure if they will get lunch.

This year, summer feeding programs are seeing an increase in the amount of children who need help.

Some children around the Tri-Cities are greeted by a school bus in the summer, but this bus isn't for school -- it brings free lunches for kids Monday through Friday through Second Harvest Food Banks' Summer Food Service Program. "We don't usually get lunch and stuff like that at home because our mom is the only one that works, so this really helps us out," says Whitney Story.

12-year-old Whitney Story says her family lost their home when it was struck by lightning during a storm earlier this year, but they come back each day for lunch. "We still come here. This bus really helps us see our old friends and get some food," she said.

At the next stop we met Lydia Webb, a mom with two children.

They've relied on this program for the past two years. Webb says if it wasn't for the free lunches, her kids may not get anything to eat until dinner. "Us parents, we can go without food for a day or two, but you don't want your kids going without. So when this bus comes she's ready for it at 10:00 in the morning," she told us.

Webb says skyrocketing food prices mean tough choices. "You want to make sure they have the good food, and the healthy food is more expensive. They fuss about kids gaining too much weight, but if they make the good food cheaper maybe we can feed them healthier," she said.

Kathy Smith with Second Harvest Community Relations says more than half the children in our region are on free or reduced-price lunch. "Overall demand is up at the food bank. More charities are needing more food really than ever before, especially during the summer months," she said. 

Resources are stretched, but children are grateful. "I think it's very sweet that these people on here volunteer so that we can have better food and stuff," adds Whitney Story.

In June alone, Second Harvest Food Banks' Summer Food Service Program served 4,000 meals, but not all were from the bus.

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