Healthy Summer Eating During a Pandemic
Eight children. This seems like a small number, but for those families, it means everything to provide healthy food options for breakfast and lunch during the summer. We were hoping for big numbers. Eighteen percent of the school kids meet the criteria for free or reduced lunch during the school year, so we should have had about 200 kids, give or take, for our Healthy Summer Breakfast/Lunch program. Why the big difference? Simply put….we don’t know. We worked with the Lincoln Park Food Pantry, Shop Rite of Lincoln Park Registered Dietitian, and the Lincoln Park Elementary and Middle School Principals to plan this program. We picked nutritious, yet appealing, food choices for the families. We developed colorful flyers and easy applications that went home via the virtual backpack. Anonymity was important, which we always strive to maintain with our food pantry clients. Still, providing food for those 8 children is important. Maybe one factor causing low numbers is the pandemic. Many adults are out of work, or have job insecurity. The Lincoln Park Health Department received a $10,000 grant from the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund. We have been using the grant funds to give out Shop Rite gift cards to families in need. Since April, we have given out gift cards to 26 families, comprised of 43 adults and 30 children, some on a regular basis. Possibly parents prefer to receive the gift cards and have their own food choices. Whatever the reasons, we will survey parents in the new school year to determine if there are any barriers to having a greater impact with our summer breakfast/lunch program in the future. Lincoln Park is a small town with a big, healthy heart. The picture above shows pots of fresh herbs that our food pantry gives to clients, along with fresh fruits and vegetables. We couldn’t have the impact on population health in Lincoln Park without the generous support from the Chilton Medical Center and the Atlantic Health System. They are truly the best partners!
About the Grantee
The Lincoln Park Health Department works with our community partners, such as the Lincoln Park Elementary and Middle Schools, to provide an environment where our kids don't just survive, but thrive.