During the school year children are guaranteed at least one full meal a day, something that goes away during the summer months. Three churches in Jefferson County are teaming up with other organizations to offer lunch to children.
St. John Lutheran Church and St. John's Episcopal Church in Harpers Ferry and Bolivar United Methodist Church in Bolivar are teaming up with the Jefferson County Council on Aging to provide summer lunches and activities for children.
The Trinity MEAL program- MEAL stands for Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran- is piggy-backing on the senior lunch program to offer meals for children. State Senator and Lutheran Pastor John Unger is one of the organizers.
“A child can come and if you’re 18 or younger the child will eat for free regardless of their socioeconomic status,” Unger said. “And we don’t take names all we do is count the number of the meals and also if they want a second meal they can have a second meal.”
Lunch is served at various locations throughout the county each weekday at noon, then activities are planned for the children and seniors to participate in.
“We’ve had everything from bingo to community gardening to a dance-a-thon,” Unger said. “Also people have been reading to the children, seniors have been reading. It just varies.”
Unger said there’s a great need in Jefferson County to continue offering children lunch when schools are not in session.
“We do have a large number of children that are designated as homeless,” he said. “They qualify for free and reduced lunches during the school year and this gives them an opportunity for them to continue to be provided nutritious meals during the summer and have interaction with other children as well as seniors.”
And since the program started more seniors are showing up for the lunches.
“And what we’re hearing is that these seniors are coming because they want to volunteer and work with children,” Unger said. “So they get out of their homes they eat a nutritious meal, they interact with children and other adults and so that’s a healthy life for them as well so it’s a win, win.”
Unger said the MEAL program is a model that other counties can use to offer children free lunch during the summer.
Free meals for children will be served at the following sites from June 23 to August 15, 2014:
- Bolivar United Methodist Church, 1215 W. Washington Street, Harpers Ferry
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, lunch noon-1:00 p.m., activities 1:00-1:45 p.m., snack 1:45-2:00 p.m.
- St. John Lutheran Church, 950 W. Washington Street, Harpers Ferry
Tuesday and Thursday, lunch noon-1:00 p.m., activities 1:00-1:45 p.m., snack from 1:45-2:00 p.m.
- St. John’s Episcopal Church, 898 W. Washington Street, Harpers Ferry
Tuesday and Thursday, activities 1:00-1:45 p.m., snack from 1:45-2:00 p.m.
- Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, 181 Keyes Gap Road, Mission Road
Tuesday and Thursday, lunch noon-1:00 p.m., activities 1:00-1:45 p.m., snack 1:45-2:00 p.m.
- Jefferson County Council on Aging Senior Center, 103 W. 5th Avenue, Ranson
Monday-Friday, lunch noon-1:00 p.m., activities 1:00-1:45 p.m., snack 1:45-2:00 p.m.