Kicking off the summer harvest program
June 10, 2015
by Leann Grabski

Summer comes early here in the South and many of our students had their last day of classes in late May. This year the end of school also marks the kickoff of our new Summer Harvest program here at the Mid-South Food Bank --- a program that helps serve children facing hunger during the summer when they do not have access to free or reduced-price school meals. This program, which is newly developed, provides students with a weekly food box that contains breakfasts and lunches for seven days. The meals for Monday through Friday are nutritious, single-serve items that a child could prepare for themselves. Over the weekend the box provides full-size items designed to be a family breakfast and lunch option.

We officially kicked off this new program a couple of weeks ago in Bells, Tennessee. The First Baptist Church of Bells provided the space and amazing volunteers who helped make the day a success. At the kickoff event each student received their first seven-day food box. Last week, they picked up their second and will be able to pick up a box every week for the next eight weeks. This kickoff was also the first of three farmer's-market style events we are hosting, where students will received fresh produce for their family in addition to the weekly box.

At check in during our kickoff, each student received $8 in Food Bank Bucks to spend at the fruit and vegetable table. I was surprised by how seriously even the smallest children took this responsibility. No one wanted to spend all of their money before they saw all of their options. Students had a wide range of choices on how to spend their money including: bananas, pears, oranges, apples, cucumbers, potatoes, broccoli and carrots. Seeing so many interested and excited faces was truly an amazing blessing. Each student was paired with a volunteer who helped them navigate the process and taught them a little bit about the produce they were picking.

After spending their Food Bank Bucks students also had the opportunity to pick up additional produce from our Pantry Staples section. Here each family received onions, sweet potatoes, green peppers, lettuce, celery and berries. By the end of the event, families had multiple bags of fresh produce to take home and enjoy.

Summer should always be a fun and exciting time for students. Hopefully, our new Summer Harvest program will free the families we serve from worrying about their next meal and help them have a healthy summer they can enjoy.

*Leann Grabski is a Child Hunger Corps member at the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, TN.

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action , We Feed Children , Tennessee , Mid-South Food Bank

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