Ending Childhood Hunger With Summer Meals

For some people, summertime means beach vacations and a much needed break from the classroom. However, this is not the reality for many children in our community. In fact, summer can end up being the hungriest time of the year.

Throughout the year, children rely on the breakfast and lunch meals that are provided by school cafeterias. But, in the summer, these meals disappear, and for families that depend on them throughout the school year, this means losing up to ten meals each week.

This is the reality for so many families here in our own community. Back in June, RIFA was able to launch the Bus Stop Cafe, a renovated school bus turned mobile feeding unit, to try and fight this growing problem. As the bus began serving four different neighborhoods daily, the need for this program became even more evident. 

“Bringing reliable food right to where the kids are is a really big deal,” says Brandi Martin, the Bus Stop Cafe site director. “The kids look forward to getting on the bus each day because they know they can count on having a meal.” 

For one boy, like so many others, the bus was a tremendous relief. As he got on the bus for the first time, he began explaining how his family had to make some cutbacks, including costs spent on food, because they were low on income. While on the bus, he expressed continuous gratitude for having meals to hold him over until his family was back on their feet. At just the age of ten, this boy has been matured by living with the burden of finances and fear of where his next meal would come from. Thankfully, the Bus Stop Cafe was able to ease some of his worries by providing a free meal five days a week.

Sadly, this boy’s situation is not uncommon. According to the Summer Nutrition Program Social Impact Analysis conducted by No Kid Hungry, 21.7 million kids receive a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year while only 3.8 million children receive meals through federal nutrition programs over the summer.

Helping to fill this gap of summer hunger is an ongoing mission, and here at RIFA, we are doing everything we can. This summer, the Bus Stop Cafe was able to deliver and serve 3,585 meals to children ages 0-18 for free. In addition to these meals, the Snack Backpack program handed out 1,955 backpacks through the following summer programs to provide meals over the weekend: the Boys and Girls Club, Hub Club, and Keep My Hood Good.

RIFA was able to provide over 15,000 meals to hungry kids throughout our community this summer. Without the prayers and support from the Jackson community, none of this would be possible. Thank you for helping ensure that our children are well-fed, healthy, and cared for this summer!

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