The Summer Lunch Box program, which is now in its 14th year, sees to it that Cumberland children who might otherwise go hungry will benefit from a free program that provides lunches and breakfasts over an eight-week period.
Last year, it provided 24,000 meals to 650 children — an increase from 20,000 and 625 children the year before.
Lunches will be distributed from noon to 1 p.m starting June 23. This will continue for five days a week through Aug. 15, except on July 4. Breakfasts will be provided at Constitution Park and Bright Stars at the YMCA only.
Summer Lunch Box is a vital service, given that 55 percent of Allegany County’s public school students qualify for subsidized meals while school is in session. In some schools, the percentage ranges from 70 to 85 percent.
Once the school year ends, many of these children face daily hunger without assistance like Summer Lunch Box.
Distribution sites for lunch are: John Humbird School playground, Springdale Park, South Penn School playground, Fort Cumberland Homes, Friendship Haven parking lot, West Side School playground and A.M.E. Church.
Children must be registered by a parent or guardian to receive the lunches. Registration has been performed in some schools, but can be provided at any of the sites.
Summer Lunch Box began in 2001 as an outreach from Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which continues to partner with Our Lady of the Mountains Parish (SS. Peter & Paul Shrine), First Presbyterian and Centre Street United Methodist churches.
Summer Lunch Box is one of those rare societal aid programs that involves no government funding. The program is staffed by hundreds of volunteers from throughout the county, and there are no paid positions. Funds are raised through donations from the public. Contributions are tax-deductible.
Becky Millar, coordinator, said the program’s goal is simply to make sure that needy children don’t go hungry. There is no imposition of values, no proselytizing and no exploitation of children.
For more information about the program, contact Millar at 301-729-3136.