The start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to numerous county and school district initiatives across the state to assist local communities struggling with food insecurity.
After the school year ended, some of those initiatives ended and will not restart until the new school year. That inspired the Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club to assist those still struggling.
Glenn and Penny Page, both co-directors for the Rotary’s For the Kids Summer Food Aid Program, helped establish a partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey to feed children in Voorhees, Gibbsboro, Lindenwold and Stratford.
“It’s a charitable program seeking to support families and children in our community, providing them with food options,” said Glenn, who is also president of the Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club. “We have an ongoing Healthy Snacks program in Osage Elementary School that’s been going for about three years now, where we help feed kids that may need it, which can support their nutrition and also their academic performance.
“But we certainly recognized the need in the community that is out there now, especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic,” he added. “And we were excited to partner with the Food Bank of South Jersey to help fill in the gaps for those that lost their school-based breakfast and lunch program.”
According to both Glenn and Penny, the program runs from July 22 to Aug. 26 and provides 400 packages, each containing five breakfast items and five lunch items, every Wednesday. They can be picked up at 111 N. Carlton St. in Lindenwold.
The operation is conducted by drive-thru, with parents informing volunteers at the site how many children they have. They then receive one package per child each week. In order to follow COVID health and safety standards, social distancing is maintained and face masks have to be worn on the premises.
“This is a critical need that we identified at the end of last school year in a few local municipalities, certainly in Voorhees, that any kids that received school-based lunch programs would lose that over the summer,” Glenn said. “So we saw that as something that we could do something about as a Rotary club.”
The program, funded by both the federal government and the state, requires meals be offered beyond one municipality, allowing the Rotary to reach outside its own border into surrounding towns.
“The program could not only be offered in Voorhees, and quite frankly we didn’t want it to be because we have needy kids and families in other towns that are struggling, and this program gave use the opportunity to help those other families,” Glenn said.
Food recipients do not need to register or sign up to receive food. They can simply show up at the Lindenwold location every Wednesday between the hours of 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Distribution is on a first-come, first-served. For more information on the work for the Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club, visit www.voorheesbreakfastrotary.org or reach out to Glenn Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.