Groups offering free lunches this summer
Jan Dudley of House of Neighborly Service strode into the Republic-Times recently, thrilled to say the organization gave out 150 meals during the first week of its summer lunch program.
The program known as Summer Lunch Bunch is mainly for local students and senior citizens — but no one will be turned away — and will provide free lunches, library books, activities and games Monday through Thursday through Aug. 11.
One of three free lunch sites in Waterloo is at Bella Vista Apartments, 103 Debra Lane, from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
After that, the donated Monroe County YMCA Teamwork trailer will travel from the apartment complex to the corner of Park and Moore streets near Rahn’s Hometown Auto Repair and remain there until noon. The trailer’s third location will be available from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the Waterloo Optimist Skate Park.
“The goal is to provide a wellness check, as well as some social interaction and physical activity,” Dudley said.
Other locations include the former First Bank facility in Valmeyer from 11 to 11:30 a.m., City Park in Hecker from noon to 12:30 p.m. and City Park in Prairie du Rocher from noon to 12:30 p.m. Those who come to the sites for lunch on Thursdays will receive a gift bag with groceries and personal need items such as hygiene products.
Dudley said anyone wishing to volunteer to help pack lunches or staff the various sites is welcome to do so. She added that HNS is looking for organizations such as the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to bake cookies and other treats.
Additionally, HNS will accept food donations such as juices, chips, fruit cups and pudding.
Another need is a truck to pull the YMCA trailer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, along with a volunteer truck driver.
For more information, contact the HNS Help Line at 939-8680. HNS partnered with the YMCA, Human Support Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois to get the program off the ground.
“When we did that it just mushroomed into this much bigger event. We can do so much more together than we can individually,” Dudley said.
In Columbia, Bethany United Methodist Church will continue to partner with TWIGS, a summer lunch program that caters to children who use the National School Lunch program. Summer lunches will be available from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until the start of the school year at Metter Park.
Bethany United Pastor Allynn Walker said the church estimates it will give out more than 1,000 lunches to the less fortunate — much the same as last year. Walker said the program could use a few more volunteers to help hand out these meals.
In 2014, the church’s partnership with TWIGS was born after Walker said she spoke with police and the Columbia school superintendent to find out how great a need there is for the program.
“I enjoy the interactions with the kids and the appreciation of so many families. The program does help,” she said.
For more information, contact the church at 281-5849.
TWIGS will also be available for the first time in Dupo this summer June 5 through June 30 and July 3 through July 28.
Vicky Foster, a coordinator of the program in Dupo, said 50 lunches will be available per day at Dupo Village Park from 11:30 to 11:50 a.m. Monday through Friday. A second location at East Carondelet Park will be available from 12:10 to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and will provide up to 30 lunches per day.
“I’m looking forward to being able to provide this to the people in the community. (Dupo schools) are 65 percent free lunches, so I feel there’s a real need,” Foster said.
Foster confirmed that volunteers are needed for the program. For more information, contact coordinator Tammy Taylor at 618-789-5515.
The TWIGS program provides one lunch and one drink per kid per day up to age 18. To volunteer with TWIGS, interested parties must pass a background check.