School’s out for summer, and that means the that Summer Meals programs are kicking off around the state! Craig Nash, child hunger specialist at THI, wrote about the value of this program for both kids and communities in our latest blog post.
Last summer, I spoke with two families at a Bellmead’s Brame Park, a local Summer Meals site, about their thoughts on the summer meal program. Both families seemed close to the other, and I assumed they were connected somehow through church, school or another of the many avenues where we become friends with other people. When I asked how they knew each other, the father said, “Through this. Summer lunches at the park.” The kids all met the previous summer, and the two families have been close ever since.
Food is never just about food, and child nutrition programs are about more than just providing healthy meals to kids. Did you know that one of the most intimate activities you can do with another human is share a meal? It’s why we eat together so much, and why cities will never lack of sit-down restaurants. Sitting across a table from another person while participating in the very primal act of fueling your body with nourishment creates invisible bonds that are helpful to survival. Do you want to strengthen your family? Sit down at the table for a meal. Is your church or civic organization needing something to reestablish comradery and affection for each other? You could spend thousands of dollars on a speaker to come talk about the importance of togetherness, or you can schedule a potluck supper and achieve more effect for less money. And if you want to increase the benefits of neighborliness, developing your community into a place where all are welcome and cared for, you can find a way to share a meal with your neighbors.
Summer Meal providers are gearing up to give you an opportunity to strengthen your community, and there is one surefire thing that parents and caregivers of children can do to help them out: Show up. If your child is in need of food, (which, last I checked, is the case for around 100% of all kids) then the summer lunch program is for you.