SCHENECTADY COUNTY Many children are excited when the school bell rings for the last time before summer break, but some parents grapple with how they’ll be able to provide lunch during the summer months.
Schenectady Inner City Ministry for 15 years has helped fill this void and ease the financial burden some Schenectady families face once free or reduced school lunches reach a seasonal drought. Through SICM’s summer lunch program, food is given every weekday to youth 18 years old or younger to provide a nutritional lunch at 15 sites throughout the city.
This year, SICM added two new locations, which are outside of the Schenectady County Public Library Central Branch located on Clinton Street and at the Front Street Pool in the Historic Stockade District.
“Unfortunately, the issue of hunger is a far reaching one and it goes beyond the summer lunch program,” said Janet Mattis, community outreach coordinator of SICM. “I think with this economy it continues to be a challenge for people to makes ends meet — even people that work full time on minimum wage.”
To help SICM meet the growing demand for its summer lunch program, the Niskayuna Co-op will hold a fundraiser on Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at its 2227 Nott St. market. The co-op will offer a canvas shopping bag to anyone donating $10 cash or $10 worth of food.
Also, the market provides bottled water for all of the summer lunch program volunteers and this year donated 36 cases.
“They make sure that our volunteers are hydrated as they help out with summer lunch,” Mattis said.
The lunches, which are a mixture of hot and cold, also could help children learn the importance of eating healthy, she said.
“It either makes them aware or increases their awareness of nutrition in everyday lunches,” Mattis said. “Hopefully it helps them maintain some good healthy eating habits.”