HomePalmyra News'It is our goal that no child goes hungry'

‘It is our goal that no child goes hungry’

Palmyra teams up with Food Bank of South Jersey to provide meals for children during the summer

Albert J. Countryman, Jr./The Sun Distributing bags with five free breakfasts and lunches for Palmyra children 18 and under on Friday, June 28, at Legion Field are volunteers and borough employees Latasha Jones, Christiana Quinton, Ava Upperman, Liza Tait, JoAnn Dixon, Mayor Gina Ragomo Tait, Liza Tait and Michele Wright-Sykes.

Youngsters growing up in the lovely town of Palmyra in the 1960 and ’70s always looked forward to summertime – using their free time to be with friends, fish off the wall on the riverbank, go to the dollar movies, play ball at Legion Field and hang out at the tracks.

Free concerts at the town bandshell on warm evenings featured local rock and roll bands delighting teenagers with great music – like young guitarist LeBurn Maddox playing amazing riffs and nailing every note while playing a stirring version of Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner that could be heard from Charles Street to the Delaware River.

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Although idyllic and picturesque, Palmyra was a working-class town. Some families struggled to pay the bills each month and keep food on the table. This is still true in 2024.

To help parents keep their children well-fed and nourished, Mayor Gina Ragoma Tait came up with an idea after joining a group of national mayors who discussed ways to feed hungry children.

Sponsored by the Borough of Palmyra and the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) based in neighboring Pennsauken, the first-ever Free Summer Meals Program was launched on Friday, June 28, at the Legion Field Concession Stand.

Families came to receive five days of shelf-stable breakfast and lunch meals for each child supplied by the FBSJ. The mayor joined volunteers JoAnn Dixon, Ava Upperman and Liza Tait, and borough employees Latasha Jones, Christiana Quinton and Michele Wright-Sykes to distribute the meals.

“This is the first partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey,” said Wright-Sykes, facility director of the Community Center, adding that the free meals will be available every Friday through Aug. 23 at 10 a.m.

“It is our goal that no child goes hungry.”

The borough expects to help about 100 families every Friday, Mayor Tait said.

“When I found out that 39.44 percent of students in the Palmyra School District were eligible for free and reduced lunches, I knew we had to do something in the summertime,” she said, adding the FBSJ will deliver the food each week with ShopRite donating the bags.

The nine-week program will help decrease the number of families this summer facing food insecurity – an official term from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that occurs when people don’t have enough to eat and don’t know where their next meal will come from.

“We are excited to provide this program and hope that the school district will pick it up next summer,” said Mayor Tait, who was delighted that her daughter, her sister and Ava Upperman were volunteering with the food distribution, as well as the borough employees.

The flier advertising the free meal program states: “Bring your children and get your summer time meal bag courtesy of the Borough of Palmyra and the Food Bank of South Jersey.”

The program is for youngster ages 18 and under, and no registration is required. For information call the Community Center at (856) 829-1144.


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