Summer can be a carefree time for kids who are out of school, but for those who rely on school lunches, hot days can be hungry days. Here at Self-Help, we’re involved in several initiatives to help.
In western North Carolina, Self-Help’s Asheville branch is participating in Buncombe County Schools’ “Free Summer Meals” program. Each day during the week, children who need a meal are invited to come to the branch (S. French Broad Street location) and receive a free, healthy lunch. Self-Help staff set up tables in a shady spot, and food is delivered by volunteers for Buncombe County Schools.
The Asheville office is one of 27 distribution sites in the county. The number of lunch guests varies, but branch manager Dawn Lierman says they’re serving between 5 and 15 children every day.
“Most of the children who need free or reduced lunch during the school year don’t get a mid-day meal in the summertime,” Lierman said. “Kids can’t grow and thrive when they’re hungry, and we want to do our part to help.”
Another project to help alleviate hunger occurred earlier this summer, when our Hendersonville branch office pitched in to fill backpacks for children in need. The program was started by a local church that provides food to school children over weekends when school is not in session. On designated weekends, the church distributes backpacks to more than 400 students. The backpack includes food for two breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
The weekend backpack program, which costs about $20,000 a year, relies largely on donations. To help out, our Hendersonville branch organized a large yard sale in June. The yard sale reaped nearly $500, which the branch donated to the backpack program.
Self-Help Credit Union members also have an opportunity to donate to our own backpack program, which distributes school supplies to students from low-income families. Look for more information on that project soon.