“Do you guys have the free lunches?” a young boy asked as he walked up to the picnic table at the park beside the swimming pool in Nelsonville on a recent summer day.
“This is for all children,” Rhonda added. The program does not have any income guidelines, eligibility rules or other regulations. It’s simple; kids just walk up to the table and ask for a lunch.
“All children are welcome,” Rhonda said.
On Mondays through Thursdays, they pass out sack lunches filled with items like cheese sandwiches, fruit, fruit juice, milk and other items.
“They’re really healthy lunches,” Brittney said. On Fridays, they pass out Domino’s Pizza (made with whole wheat crusts to make them healthier) along with sacks filled with food items the kids can eat for meals at home over the weekends. The volunteers also pass out afternoon snacks on Mondays through Fridays.
“The kids love the lunches,” Brittney said.
Volunteer Stacey Bentley said that many local families don’t have enough money to provide three meals a day for their children in the summer, so the lunch program is very beneficial. Some children fill up on the lunches and the snacks each day because they may not have a meal at home in the evening.
“The kids are allowed to take seconds so they can eat as much as they’d like,” Stacey said. She added that many families have money at the beginning of the summer to pay for pool passes for their children, but they can’t afford to send money with them to the pool every day to buy their lunches. Many of the children swim for much of the day and take breaks to eat the free lunches and snacks.
On Friday, Aug. 12, the Nelsonville Community Center will pass out backpacks and school supplies to local children, all free of charge. The Center is planning to hold a special event at the park next to the pool that day, and will have activities for children. The Center is currently accepting donations of school supplies to pass out and will accept donations up until Aug. 12. Many families can’t afford school supplies or backpacks, so the Nelsonville Community Center is hoping to help as many families as possible.