For the 13th summer in a row, Cumberland children who might otherwise go hungry will benefit from a free program that provides lunches and breakfasts over an eight-week period.
Known as the Summer Lunch Box, the effort resulted in nearly 20,000 meals given to about 625 youths last summer.
This year’s program will begin June 17 and continue for five days a week through Aug. 9. Lunch and breakfast will be available every weekday except on July 4.
Summer Lunch Box is a vital service, given that more than half of Allegany County’s public school students receive subsidized meals while school is in session. Once the school year ends, many of these children face daily hunger without assistance like Summer Lunch Box.
The Cumberland effort is an ecumenical partnership of four local churches, Emmanuel Episcopal Parish, Our Ladies of Mountains Parish (SS. Peter & Paul Shrine), First Presbyterian and Centre Street United Methodist. The volunteers prepare, pack, deliver and distribute lunches to eight sites throughout Cumberland. Breakfast is provided at Constitution Park Day Camp and Bright Stars at the YMCA.
Distribution sites for lunch are: John Humbird School playground, Springdale Park, Fort Cumberland Homes, Friendship Haven parking lot, Melvin Methodist Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Virginia Avenue Post Office parking lot and AME Church parking lot.
Children must be registered by a parent or guardian to receive the lunches. Registration can be done prior to June 17 or at any of the sites thereafter. Adults will be at all sites to distribute lunchs from noon to 1 p.m. They will have applications available.
Becky Millar, coordinator of the program, said the goal of Summer Lunch Box is simply to make sure needy children do not go without food. “There is no imposition of values, no proselytizing, and no exploitation of children,” she said.
Summer Lunch Box is one of those rare societal aid programs that involve 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.
For more information about Summer Lunch Box, contact Millar at 301-729-3136.