There have been times lately when the daily news feed has just been depressing to the point that I will go several days with minimal monitoring of the news. To continue to follow the news cycle only serves to deepen the malaise that I feel and at times has almost caused me to throw up my hands and say what’s the use. These past few days have been no exception. So when I received two particular emails yesterday containing good news my spirits were immediately lifted.
The first email came from the Director of Food Services in my local school district, notifying me that the school district’s application to provide free summer lunches to students in our school district had finally been approved. The school district had applied to serve reimbursable meals under the federally funded Summer Food Service Program. Any child under the age of 18 will be able to come to the designated location and receive a meal at no charge. Adults are also able to eat a meal as well for a nominal fee. The school district will be serving lunches at a convenient, walkable location, 4 days a week from June 20-August 18.
This is the same program that I had been researching last year, with the hope of convincing the school board to authorize the district to apply to be a sponsor of this program for this summer. When I contacted the Food Services Director for the district to obtain some information for my group’s presentation, she told me the district was already considering this program. At the time she was just beginning her research, so I was able to provide her with the contact information of the person with whom I had been speaking at the PA Department of Education. I was very relieved to learn that the school district was already considering this program. I had been thinking that our group was going to have to do quite a bit of convincing to get this program implemented. I need to get my background check completed, but once I have accomplished that I plan to volunteer with this program once a week as well.
The second email I received that buoyed my spirits was the monthly newsletter from the Food Bank of Delaware. The Food Bank of DE has received a 3 year grant from Giant Food’s Our Family Foundation. This grant allows the Food Bank of DE to partner with Delaware Pediatrics in a pilot program entitled “Produce Prescriptions”. The pilot will allow participating Delaware Pediatrics offices to identify up to 120 families they feel are at risk for food insecurity and diet related health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Those families will then be given a “produce prescription” which allows them to receive a monthly allotment of 15-20 pounds of fruits and vegetables from the Food Bank. These fruits and vegetables will be able to be picked up by the families at the pediatric clinic they attend. What a great idea! I have read about doctors and hospitals writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables, but this is the first program I have heard about that provides the produce to those who are otherwise unable to purchase the produce themselves.
These emails came at just the right time for me. Periodically I get very discouraged and pessimistic about what can be accomplished, and in particular, what I can ever hope to accomplish. While I do not take any credit for the summer lunch program in my local town, I am happy to know that I helped connect the Food Service Director with the right person at the right State agency to move the process along. I’d also like to think that keeping in contact with her over the past few months and letting her know that people in the community supported this action strengthened the district’s resolve to see this process to fruition. Either way, it matters not. The most important thing is that kids, who would otherwise be hungry, are now able to get a nutritious lunch 4 days a week over the summer.