Now entering its 9th year, ONT's Summer Lunch Program takes the fear of hunger out of summer by providing healthy meals and snacks to children across the region. 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. This makes summer the hungriest time of year for children.
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(SLP) 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 previous years 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 kid should.
HOW CAN I REGISTER FOR SLP:
If you have children in your household and you live in one of the towns in our service region, you are eligible for the Summer Lunch Program. Amesbury, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, West Newbury, Rowley, Salisbur and South Hampton (NH) are the towns in our service area. To register, call the ONT office at 978-388-1907. Or you can register in person at one of our markets when you come to shop. A complete list of Market hours and locations can be found on our programs page.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT:
Every $1 donated to the Summer Lunch Program provides 1 more meal to our kids. Make a donation now! Kids now have the opportunity to help their peers struggling with hunger by starting a Fill Em Up Bag! The $25 collected will provide breakfast and lunch for a kid for a howl month! Read more about how you can get your kids involved in giving back to their community.