Food bank sees greater need during summer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Food bank sees greater need during summer

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - During the school year, a growing number of children are relying on the cafeteria's free and reduced meals.  For some, those meals are the only ones they get.

Now that summer's here, the growing numbers of families in need are relying heavily on organizations such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club to provide food for their children.

 "They don't have anywhere else to go," says Shannon Zapf of the Second Harvest Food Bank.  "Their parents need child care, and they don't have anything to eat."

Second Harvest of South Georgia offers a program called Kids Café, which provides fresh meals to these after school programs.

"In seven counties right now, with paperwork still coming in, we're serving about 1,600 children, but we do expect that number to rise," says Zapf. 

That number is expected to climb to at least 2,000 within the next few weeks.

Kids' Café's nutritious offerings are intended to promote healthy lifestyles.

Winona Green, Community Kitchen Director for Second Harvest, says, "(We provide) different vegetables they don't usually get at home, different meats they don't usually get at home--to expand their horizons so that when they go out into the world, they don't just know chicken nuggets."

With after-school programs losing funding across the state, children in-need could lose their only place to receive free meals.

"If the participating programs close, those children won't have anywhere to go," says Zapf.  "We won't have anywhere to send the food, so they'll be without their meals again."

Donations to organizations like the Boys and Girls club will not only provide a safe haven for kids.  They will provide the only meals many of them will receive.