Summer is a time of fun, a time to relax from the stress of school, a time to just be a kid. But for more than 2,400 children living in the Lower Merrimack Valley, summer means no school - and no school breakfast and lunch.
Across the region, 1 out of every 8 school children qualifies for free or reduced lunch. For these families, it is already a struggle to afford enough food to feed their children during the school year. At an average cost of $3/meal, the cost of feeding each child for the 9 weeks of summer vacation is $300. Compounded with costs of summer camp and childcare, the loss of school lunches quickly turns summer fun into summer angst.
ONT is proud to provide relief to these families, and to do so with wholesome, nutritious foods that children WILL eat! ONT provides each enrolled family with groceries for breakfast, lunch and snack foods - foods like fresh oranges, cherries, grapes, carrots, hummus, peanut butter and jelly, wheat bread, lunch meat, milk, eggs, and cereal. This year, with support from Heron Pond and the Haas Family Foundation and Pennies for Poverty, families will receive local produce and gift cards to our local farms.
Parents from last year's program shared how the program helped them:
"Summer is hard financially because the kids are home and eat twice as much. God bless and thank you."
"Very helpful with two small children, especially most of the fresh food."
"[The program gave us] more options and stretched [our] food availability"
"My SNAP benefits didn't come this month so I needed everything!"
Whether kids are home for the summer, at daycare, or at summer camp, their parents can pack them healthy, nutritious lunches to keep their bellies full and their energy strong to run, jump, and enjoy the summer just like every other kid.
While picking up at the Summer Lunch Program, families are also able to visit the weekly food pantry for additional groceries and fresh foods - a service available throughout the year. To enroll in the Summer Lunch Program, please call our office, 978-388-1907. The Summer Lunch Program is a great opportunity for families to volunteer together, as well. Families with children 8 and up can help distribute the food to guests on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer. We still have a few slots left. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.