HNS collecting summer lunch donations early

This year, Monroe County House of Neighborly Service is expecting to weather some unique challenges to its summer lunch program, causing them to prepare even earlier than usual. 

The program, which provides families in need with groceries, recipes and additional items weekly throughout the summer, will be battling pandemic-related issues in the near term. 

“We are already collecting because we are a little concerned about the price of food going up and also the supply chain, so we are getting some of the stuff that we can go ahead and (collect), like the non-perishables,” HNS Executive Director Tina Charron said. 

HNS is asking the community to drop off the following items at its office located at 1331 Jamie Lane in Waterloo: canned soups and chili, pasta, canned pasta sauce, sloppy joe mix, 18 oz. peanut butter, 30 oz. jelly, granola bars, canned chicken, fruit and pudding cups, cereal, corn muffin mix, canned pork and beans, crackers, Hamburger Helper, crackers and baked goods mixes. 

Charron explained that as not everything needed to support the estimated 150 families in need will be donated , the summer lunch program also relies on monetary support. 

With food prices soaring, HNS has set a higher goal. 

“Last year’s program cost just a little bit over $28,000,” Charron said. “With the inflation this year, it would be nice to get at least that $28,000. A little bit more would be even greater.” 

Charron said one particular item of concern is the price of meat, which cannot be collected early. 

“We use canned chicken sometimes for different recipes here and with the pantry and the summer lunch, and a six-pack at Costco last year was around $10, and now it’s up to $15,” she said. 

HNS just wrapped up its Be the Change coin collection programs at Columbia, Waterloo and  Valmeyer schools, Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School, State Bank of Waterloo and the HNS office. Students and community members were encouraged to bring in change they would find around the house to create a larger donation total.

Charron said last year’s Be the Change campaign, its pilot year, was highly successful, as it raised over $3,000.

“We did not anticipate near the amount we received, but change adds up. It adds up very quickly,” Charron said. 

This is not the only way the community can monetarily donate to the cause. One can sponsor a family of three children for $50 a week or $200 a month. The program lasts 12 weeks of summer. Any donation can also be mailed to the HNS office, and one can also donate via PayPal. 

“Any extra financial support or food donations this year is going to greatly help us be able to feed more in the community and help us stretch our budget a little bit further,” Charron said. 

While this year’s task can be daunting, Charron said she is confident the community will continue to provide for their neighbors. 

“We are concerned, yes, but we know that the community always steps up and helps out in a big way,” she said. 

Those wishing to receive groceries – one bag for families of four and under, two bags for families of five or more – and other supplies through the summer lunch program will be able to register in early April, Charron said.

This year’s program begins May 23.

To contact HNS, call 618-939-8900.

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Madison Lammert

Madison is a reporter at the Republic-Times. She has over six years of experience in journalistic writing. Madison is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mass communications. Before graduating and working at the Republic-Times, Madison worked for SIUE’s student newspaper, The Alestle, for many years. During her time there she filled many roles, including editor-in-chief. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her dog and try new restaurants across the river.
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