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 lives in a food-insecure home. 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's market serves families living in northeastern Essex County (see list of eligible towns below) with a genuine weekly shopping experience throughout the year featuring a full array of grocery staples, meats/fish, dairy, and LOTS of fresh produce. The Summer Lunch Program provides each enrolled family with even more groceries specifically 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. Families enrolled in the SLP get BOTH the program items and access to the complete market!
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 get them started with a wholesome breakfast and 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.
HOW TO ENROLL:
To enroll in the Summer Lunch Program, please call our office, 978-388-1907. Families new to ONT will complete a short registration at the time of your first visit. Only proof of residence is required (ID, mail, lease, etc.).
WHO CAN ENROLL:
The Summer Lunch Program serves all families with school-aged children living in: Amesbury, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, South Hampton NH, and West Newbury. ONT's market is open year-round to any individuals or families living in these towns. Items provided in the SLP are designed to meet the tastes and needs of children 4-18. Priority is given to families who qualify for free- or reduced lunch during the school year, but we rarely turn anyone away.
If your child is enrolled at the Boys & Girls Club summer program and you don't have transportation to Amesbury, you can sign up at the Club for our new distribution taking place there.
WHERE/WHEN IS THE SUMMER LUNCH PROGRAM:
The SLP is primarily distributed out of the market at The Jardis-Taylor Center for Our Neighbors' Table during regular market hours (Thursday 3-6p; Friday/Saturday 9a-12p). For families enrolled at the Boys & Girls Club in Salisbury, groceries will be on-site at the Club every Wednesday. The program runs every week starting July 5 through August 26.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT:
Every $1 donated to the Summer Lunch Program provides 1 more meal to our kids. Make a donation now! AND, now through June 30, help us get $10,000 from KIND Causes by casting your vote for ONT's Summer Lunch Program!
If you're interested in volunteering, complete our volunteer application and email Alice or call her at 978-388-1907 today!