7-year-old Scarlet has a red dinosaur on her hand that talks. She’s very keen to remind anyone who asks that the dinosaur is a girl.
“Her name is Fire Pack! And I have another one at home whose name is Ice Pack!” Scarlet exclaims, before running off to play with her friends.
Scarlet and her mom, Susan, are at a summer meals site in Maine on a sunny, windy Tuesday. Susan is a single mom with three children, including Scarlett, a 5-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.
She watches her daughter play and smiles.
“This helps in 800 different ways,” she says. “The kids usually have breakfast and lunch at school but don’t during the summer.”
Susan was working as a survivors advocate but recently lost her job. She’s hoping to get a new position quickly, but in the meantime the summer meals are helping fill the gap.
“Just having this takes the pressure off my shoulders, even for just a minute. We fall into that middle ground where I was making just too much for SNAP but still struggling,” she says.
The summer meals site works with the Good Shepherd Food Bank – and provides much more than food. It offers different activities for the kids every day, including yoga, nutrition education, a “water day” and more.
Scarlet loves hanging out with her friends at the site – and her mom uses that time to apply for jobs.
“At least they have this one meal,” Susan says, as Scarlet bounds back up to the picnic table with an apple, giggling and goofing off.
“Look at those little happy food dances,” Susan says, as Scarlet hops around. “Oh my goodness, that’s nice to see.”