For years, the Randolph Area Food Shelf has been providing food and other resources to families in need in the Central Vermont communities of Randolph, Braintree, Brookfield, and East Granville.
According to Joe Dauscher, network relations manager at the Vermont Foodbank, “The Randolph Area Food Shelf is a model for new and existing food shelves. Clients are able to select food from well-displayed shelves. They are open five days a week and have evening hours to accommodate working families. The volunteers are friendly and respectful. And their board has great vision and has made vast improvements over the years. The food shelf reminds me of a small general store without the cash register.”
It’s no wonder that last summer the Randolph Area Food Shelf decided it was time to expand its focus and to pilot a summer program aimed at addressing childhood hunger in their community during the summer months.
In the Randolph area, more than 60% of the children are eligible to receive free lunch during the school year. To help make up the loss of school meals during the summer, the Randolph Area Food Shelf launched SKiP (Summer Kids Program), a pilot program to help get meals to kids in their communities. The goal of the program was to prevent kids from being hungry, while easing the burden of increased food costs on families during the summer months.
With the support of volunteers from the community, SKiP served more than 1,700 lunchtime meals during last year’s summer vacation months. Meals are delivered to residential sites known to have high concentrations of school-aged kids living below the poverty line. Monday through Friday, lunches are served from 11:30 to 12:30. The program began in June and ran through the end of August, right before school went back into session.
Teams of volunteers prepare and drop off sandwiches and snacks to the Randolph Area Food Shelf for delivery to the meal sites. More volunteers pick up the prepared food from the Food Shelf and deliver it to the residential sites, where tables are set with tablecloths and tents are set up for serving lunch to children who are participating in the program. Each meal consists of a sandwich, snack, a piece of fruit, and milk. Leftovers are sent home with children after the lunch service is over.
SKiP is a great example of a community identifying a need and securing the resources needed to address the need head on. This summer, the Food Shelf will again run the Summer Kids Program for the community.