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.
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.”