For a few years now, Brenda B. Swain, director of Falmouth Service Center; Kerin S. Delaney, assistant director; and Susan Hauptman, director of human services, have worked to get Falmouth listed as a Summer Eats program site—although in previous years Falmouth did not qualify as a location.
This summer their efforts were successful and a Summer Eats location will be at the East Falmouth branch of Falmouth Public Library beginning on Monday, July 9. “There are a number of factors that can qualify a town as a site location and in the past Falmouth did not qualify,” said Meg L. Borden, head librarian at the East Falmouth branch.
During the school year, 486,000 students, half of all Massachusetts public school students, eat lunch served to them in their cafeteria. However, when the school year ends for the summer, the need to curb hunger is still there. Parents are left scrambling to fill in the gap.
Without support provided by Project Bread, a not-for-profit group in Boston, many children would go hungry in the summer. Project Bread sponsors 1,000 summer meal sites throughout the commonwealth, where children can eat free, providing a safety net from hunger. Project Bread and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are the agencies that plan and support the site locations.
As a way to draw interest to the program, Ms. Borden said, “a series of kid-friendly events have been scheduled. Events will be held on Mondays at noon.” Programs and lunches are free and no registration is needed.
Summer Eats will offer free meals this summer to anyone younger than 18 from July 9 through August 20 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 1 PM at the East Falmouth branch library.
Cape Cod YMCA is the Summer Eats program sponsor for Falmouth and they will provide the lunches.
Lunches will be prepared at Camp Lyndon in Sandwich and delivered to the East Falmouth library on Mondays with enough lunches expected for Monday and Tuesday. Lunches will be delivered again on Wednesday. Ms. Borden said, “They won’t know exactly how many lunches they will need and they will be in contact with the Cape Cod YMCA as the program gets underway and they get a feel for how many they need.”
The lunch menu for the first week of camp includes pasta salad on Monday, roast beef subs on Tuesday and chicken Caesar wraps on Wednesday.
Assistant branch librarian Ryan M. Kerry is in charge of the Summer Eats program and was trained to distribute food safely, including keeping the lunches at the right temperature.
“Summer can be an incredibly stressful time for families who rely on school meals to feed their children,” said Erin McAleer, president of Project Bread. “Summer meals help bridge the gap by providing families safe, stigma-free places to receive healthy meals when school is out.” Hunger is not just about food; it is about the people involved, she said.
One of the barriers that prevents children and teens from receiving summer lunches is not knowing that the lunches are available. “As a way to encourage kids to participate in the program, we are bringing in added programming to go along with the lunches on Mondays,” Ms. Borden said.
The first day of the Summer Eats program, July 9, will begin with an event featuring the Falmouth band Crooked Coast.
The programs on Mondays at noon were provided as donations and, in addition to the performance by Crooked Coast, include a visit from Bella, the mule from Serenity Farm (July 23), Big Ryan (August 6) and creative art projects with Susan Beardsley (August 13).
Performances by Pitter Patter Puppets (July 16) and the Coastal Explorer Van (July 30) will be provided by Friends of the Falmouth Public Library.
“Volunteers comprised of teens and retired teachers will offer additional programming activities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the duration of the program,” Ms. Borden said.