By Kathy Walsh
LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Tens of thousands of students in the Denver area count on getting lunch for free or reduced prices during the school year. But who feeds those hungry kids in the summer?
Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) comes to the rescue. The organization runs a program distributing lunches provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is for low-income children and parents who could use some help.
CBS4 caught up with the Lunchbox Express at the Lakewood Library. When the yellow, mini school bus rolled up, it was time for lunch. Adults jumped off the bus to quickly serve some hungry kids.
Raisins, applesauce, sunflower seeds, crackers, and hummus made up this day’s meal. For anyone under 18 years old, the lunch was free. There were no questions and no need to qualify thanks to the nonprofit Jewish Family Service.
“Not everybody is as fortunate as some other people, so I think that’s really great,” said Sienna Mascarenaz, who was at the library with her father.
It was Day 1 of the fourth summer the Lunchbox Express has hit the road. Five mini school buses started delivering food to 17 sites in underserved neighborhoods in Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and Sheridan.
“Usually kids have meals; breakfast and lunch, during school. But when school lets out, those kids don’t have a place to get food and this is where we fill in,” said Doug Vega, Program Coordinator at JFS.
The mobile meals will be distributed five days a week and take a bite out of hunger by reaching anywhere from 24,000 to 30,000 children this summer. Kids will also get to pick a book to take home.
“We feel like we’re feeding their stomachs and we’re feeding their minds at the same time,” said JFS President and CEO Shepard Nevel.
Three generations of Anderles applaud the program.
“I just think it’s really great that they show that people care,” said Rebecca Anderle, mother of 3-year-old Zyra.
At least 150 volunteers help drive the Lunchbox Express to put the brakes on hunger.
For more information, visit jewishfamilyservice.org or call (303) 597-5000.
LINK: Lunchbox Express