Social K - Our Company Blog

Breathing a Back-To-School Sigh of Relief

Now that children around the country are back in school, many parents find themselves breathing a sigh of relief.  For some families, summer isn’t a vacation—it’s a long, hot, “hangry” series of hungry days. 

For some families, back to school isn’t just a return to a routine—it’s a return to the guarantee of at least one nutritious meal a day, too.

With school back in session, my routine has been reestablished. I find myself thinking about how I spent my summer, and it makes me feel good to know that my team at Action Ministries spent our time serving more than 203,000 meals to 8,000 children in our community. That’s significant, because through our work, we were able to help a lot of families this summer. And we were able to accomplish so much, thanks in part, to a grant the United Way received from Kellogg Company Fund, the charitable arm of Kellogg Company.

Early in the summer, I remember standing in the grocery store with a cart full of food. I knew that my daughters would be home more since school was out, and I was stocking up on extra food to feed them. A woman passed my shopping cart and said, “Isn’t summer so expensive? People don’t realize it, but in the summer some of our support goes away. Lunch programs help a lot during the school year, and while I am already managing a tight budget, the added expense of providing lunch during the summer means I have to stretch a limited budget even further.”

Then the woman went on to give me a great tip.

She told me about a program that she had recently learned about at her apartment complex. A program that helped her breathe a little easier.

This program came to the community room at her apartment complex and provided kids with lunch each weekday, in addition to a fun enrichment activity.

She told me that the program did more than feed her children. It also took some of the stress she and her mother had, as they tried to manage their budget and the added expense of one more meal —it gave her some breathing room. The woman told me that this program would help her bridge that difficult, expensive gap between school and summer.

I’m pleased to say that she was talking about the program I run for Action Ministries —Smart Lunch, Smart Kids.

In Georgia Schools, nearly 1 million children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch. At Action Ministries our Smart Lunch, Smart Kids program brings lunches to the children who need them the most. Our program removes barriers such as lack of transportation to bring lunch to children in the neighborhoods where they live. We reach them in their apartment complexes, on playgrounds, in churches, at mobile home communities, and even motels. Motels are an especially important distribution location because for many families they’re often the last stop before a family transitions to homelessness.

Our Smart Lunches, Smart Kids program does more than provide a nutritious, consistent meal for the children we serve. We also nourish the mind, body and soul of these children too, through enrichment and mentoring activities at every location we serve.

As the school year gets under way and school feeding programs resume, I’m proud of the work our team at Action Ministries did this summer. And, I’m grateful for the grant provided by Kellogg Company Fund. The monies provided to the United Way helped us serve 500 more children every day this summer. Thinking about the impact we were able to have on these additional families helps me to breathe a sigh of relief!

 

Shakura Conoly
Associate VP, Hunger Relief Programs, Action Ministries