Families who rely on free and reduced school lunches often struggle during the summer.
By EMILY KEIFLINE and KELLY FLYNN
For most kids, the end of a school year means a summer full of friends, fun and freedom. But for some, it can mean not knowing where their next meal will come from.
Families who struggle to afford food often rely on free and reduced school lunches to keep their children nourished. Without this assistance during the summer months, these families don’t know where to turn, according to Live Civilly CEO and President Kahra Buss. This is where local food pantries come into play.
“The pantry was designed to provide a consistent and reliable resource for families who are struggling with food insecurity,” Buss said of the Live Civilly Inc./Moorestown Ministerium Food Pantry, located at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church. “The goal is to provide some kind of consistency for these families who lose this support they get over the course of the school year.”
The pantry is open on the first and third Mondays of each month, which Buss says was intentional as the food pantry at Bethel AME Church is open on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
“There will be some place where someone can find some kind of resource each week,” Buss said.
There is also a food pantry located at First Baptist Church in Moorestown, and all the pantries keep an open line of communication and work together to serve Moorestown as best they can.
The absence of school lunches isn’t the only problem struggling families face in the summer, though.
“One of the things that we’ve noticed over the last couple of years is that Moorestown has a tremendous support network, but a lot of people leave during the summer,” Buss said, adding congregations that typically give a large donation often don’t have anything to donate during the summer months. “All of the pantries tend to suffer.”
To compensate, Live Civilly is planning to host a food drive in July as well as work with local swim clubs and other organizations to garner donations. This year, for the first time, Live Civilly is offering logistical support to those interested in hosting independent food drives.
“If you’re not sure where to start, we can help you,” Buss said.
Live Civilly is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that offers various assistance programs throughout Moorestown. The Live Civilly Inc./Moorestown Ministerium Food Pantry is entirely inclusive and doesn’t require any documentation.
“This is an open and welcoming food pantry,” Buss said. “We don’t restrict. We just figure if people are coming, there’s a reason.”
Buss advises residents who don’t think food insecurity exists in affluent communities to do more research.
“Affluent communities are the fastest-growing population of food insecurity,” Buss said. “When we’re all helping one another, we’re all more successful in the long run.”
Even at the age of 10, Live Civilly volunteer Audrey Barr recognizes the importance of giving back to the community. Barr, along with her family, goes to the pantry at St. Matthew Lutheran Church every Friday. She said for her, it’s important to recognize there are people in need.
“Kids are not really focused on other people,” Barr said. “This is something small you can do.”
Her mother, Adrienne, said she wanted to expose her children to volunteering at a young age, and she wanted them making an impact within their own community. She said volunteering at food pantries is an approachable entry point to volunteering for people who want to give back but may not know how.
“So many people are looking for an opportunity to give back,” Adrienne said.
During the summer months, the pantries are in need of breakfast cereals, peanut butter and jelly and canned meats such as tuna and chicken.
“Think about what your children eat over the course of the summer,” Buss says to those who aren’t sure what to donate.