Smart Lunch, Smart Kid summer meal program kicks off Monday in Richmond County

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Brown-bag lunches will be delivered door to door this summer in a new program that aims to keep children who rely on free and reduced-price lunches from going hungry.

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State Rep. Gloria Frazier (left) high-fives Rabbi Robert Klensin after making sandwiches. Action Ministries Augusta unveiled its upcoming Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program Thursday.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
State Rep. Gloria Frazier (left) high-fives Rabbi Robert Klensin after making sandwiches. Action Ministries Augusta unveiled its upcoming Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program Thursday.

Smart Lunch, Smart Kid, an initiative of Action Ministries Augusta, launches Monday in Richmond County and on May 29 in Columbia County. Volunteers will make and deliver sandwiches to 800 children a day, five days a week, for 10 weeks.

“It’s essentially a Meals on Wheels program for children,” said John R. Moeller, the president of Action Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit operating in Augusta and other cities across the state. “The impact will be healthier children and relieved parents.”

On Thursday, Action Ministries Augusta held a kick-off at New Destiny Triumph Ministries. Community leaders and pastors turned out to make the ceremonial first sandwiches of the program and sign up for sandwich-making shifts this summer.

“Everyone can get involved in this program by making lunches, helping pack those lunches, delivering lunches door to door where children live,” Moeller said.

Angela Harden, a pastor of New Destiny Triumph Ministries, urged youth groups, businesses, senior citizens and civic organizations to sign up.

“There are hungry children right here in our community. We can feed those hungry children. With your help, we can do that,” said Harden, whose ministry serves as the host site for the program in Richmond County. “It’s going to bless so many children.”

Georgia has one of the highest rates of “food insecurity” in the country. Locally, 28 percent of children in Richmond County and 23 percent of children in Columbia County are “at risk of hunger” or don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to Feeding America, a nonprofit and food bank network.

During the school year, more than 800,000 students across the state receive free or reduced-price lunches, according to Georgia’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

Smart Lunch, Smart Kid launches in several other cities across Georgia this month, including Atlanta, Athens, Gainesville, Fayetteville, Rome and Jackson. Statewide, the program aims to serve more than 100,000 meals to children who might otherwise go hungry this summer.

“They’re not sure where their next meal is going to come from. We want to change that,” said Mark Hellman, the executive director of Smart Lunch, Smart Kid. “It’s really easy to volunteer. If you can put peanut butter on a piece of bread, you can be a Smart Lunch, Smart Kid volunteer.”

LEARN MORE

Learn more about Smart Lunch, Smart Kid at actionministries.net or call (706) 722-8195.

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raul
5336
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raul 05/17/12 - 04:51 pm
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I have mixed feelings towards

I have mixed feelings towards programs such as this. Number one, I doubt the statistics provided regarding the number of hungry kids. More than likely they are using the percentages that are used to calculate the number of particpants in the "free lunch" program. I'm pretty sure most of the recipients parents of this kind of program have maximized the government assistance available through food stamps, food shelters, WIC, etc. It certainly creates a sense of dependence at an early age. You don't even have to make the effort to leave your house to get a free meal. EBT cards could buy a lot of peanut butter, jelly and bread instead of the purchase of non-essential items bought through the food stamp program.

my.voice
4927
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my.voice 05/17/12 - 05:05 pm
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Raul, sometimes you do for

Raul, sometimes you do for others just because. This is an awesome gesture by this selfless group of people who care about others.

It may foster gratefulness instead of dependence.

raul
5336
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raul 05/17/12 - 05:42 pm
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@my.voice. I'm sure this

@my.voice. I'm sure this group is well intentioned and I have no problem in helping folks who have a true need. I went to school during the era where there was no free lunch or reduced price lunches. I saw no adverse affect. You create a program like this or free lunch programs and however well intentioned somehow you create the "need". Face it, some, people will stand in line for hours for a free hunk of cheese, or a turkey, simply because it is free.

raul
5336
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raul 05/17/12 - 07:46 pm
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@soapy. They do provide a

@soapy. They do provide a financial statement at their website, actionministries.net. It is under the topic About Us. I'll let you do your own analysis. (I was a psychology major in college, ha)

raul
5336
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raul 05/17/12 - 08:18 pm
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"Locally, 28 percent of

"Locally, 28 percent of children in Richmond County and 23 percent of children in Columbia County are “at risk of hunger” or don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to Feeding America, a national nonprofit and food bank network."

According to the U.S. Census (2006-2010), Richmond County has a 23.3% poverty level, Columbia County 7.1%. I would equate poverty level to mean the possibility of going hungry. However, I would think the poverty level is established without benefit of supplemental programs such as food stamps, welfare, etc. ( I could be wrong)

Pops
10614
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Pops 05/17/12 - 08:57 pm
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As an added feature, why not

As an added feature, why not bring these children books and encourage them to sharpen their reading skills while they are eating.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 05/18/12 - 08:09 am
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It seems that children who

It seems that children who are on free or reduced lunch would most likely come from households that get foodstamps to feed them at home. I still would never want any child to be hungry so way to go, it is always great to hear of people doing good things for others.

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 05/18/12 - 11:11 am
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soapy_725, odd for you to say

soapy_725, odd for you to say " Samaritans Purse will not provide a financial statement nor will they make public their tax returns"

This is for 2010 but it seems they do display their financial reports.
http://issuu.com/samaritanspurse/docs/4288_sp_2010_financials.final?view...

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 05/18/12 - 11:25 am
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This seems like a wonderful

This seems like a wonderful program and not really sure how they come to know what families are in need but my concern would be the medical history of the children receiving these lunches. Most kids love PBJ sandwiches but if I remember correctly reading an article that said there has been an increase in peanut allergies among kids and hopefully there will be a responsible sibling or at least one parent home when these lunches are delivered just in case a sack lunch contains something a child is allergic to.

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