Beverly Arnold, affectionately called “Ms. B,” patiently waits for the children to settle in their seats before she instructs her volunteers for the day to serve the children at the table as you would in a restaurant. Her booming voice comes in handy to call children nearby in for a meal. Some, she says, are concerned that they are too big to get a free lunch. A strong believer in “word of mouth advertising,” her calls for lunch remind the community that lunch is free for all children ages 18 and under.
Participants have a full hour, unlike during the school year, to take their time, enjoy their meal and chat with their friends and siblings. Through Ms. B’s guidance, older children are encouraged to help the younger ones open their lunches and drinks. Her deep knowledge and love for children (she’s a mother of six, grandmother of 20 and currently in school to receive a degree in childcare) is reflected in the smiles and respect she gets from the lunch crowd.
If you want to know why our Summer Food Service Programs are continuing to grow year after year, you don’t need to look further than the lunchroom at Santa Rita Courts. These communal meals provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to practice and refine social skills and support a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Through our partnership with Public Housing Authorities in Central Texas, 14 properties total, we provide residents with a meaningful way to give back to their communities and develop leadership skills. Site supervisors also receive a stipend for publicizing the availability of free meals, reporting on participation and sustaining program participation thanks to their creative ideas.
This program is one of 13 government programs funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service and administered by state agencies. To learn more about the Capital Area Food Bank’s Summer Food Service Program sites visit our website at http://www.austinfoodbank.org/sfsp/. You’ll find an interactive map and the times and days our sites are serving lunches and snacks. Children do not need to register or provide proof of age or income to participate.