For many children, free school lunches are the most consistent meals they receive. When school ends for summer vacation, these children sometimes face hunger and uncertainty as to where their next meal will come from.
The Well at Sunnyside provides a continuation of the free lunch program, called Kids’ Cafe, so that children ages 4 to 18 in the community won’t go hungry this summer.
Free lunches are available at The Well at Sunnyside and also at a satellite location in Jeffersonville in the Head Start building from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, on Fridays each child is sent home with two packed lunches “so they at least get a meal every day,” according to The Well’s executive director, Jon Creamer.
The program runs from June 4 to Aug. 10 with the exception of July 4.
The primary mission of Kids’ Cafe may be to ensure that no child goes hungry, but it’s not the hot meals that have caused local children to fall in love with the program. It’s the fun they have before and after lunch that keeps them coming back. The children eat for about 20 minutes and spend about 40 minutes enjoying activities and games.
“They come early and stay late… they enjoy being here,” said Creamer. Alaysia Dotson, 11, said her favorite part of Kids’ Cafe is the activities. Chad Tubbs, 7, said he loves “coloring, climbing trees and having fun.”
On Friday afternoon, The Well’s yard was full of children playing kickball and drawing with chalk while other children pored over coloring pages in the cafeteria.
Funding for the Kids’ Cafe free lunch program comes from grants and donations. The cost of the food is covered by the Ohio Department of Education. The program is run primarily by volunteers and “we’re always in need of volunteers,” said Creamer.
“We could not exist without volunteers,” he added. Creamer would like to improve the ratio of adult volunteers to children because “adults can really play an important role in the lives of these kids.” Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact The Well at 740-333-5082.
So far, the Jeffersonville location has been feeding about 40 kids a day while the Washington Court House location feeds about 25 a day. Creamer expects this number to jump up to about 85 once summer school ends at the end of June. Parents or guardians who would like for their children to receive free lunches simply need to register their kids and fill out a permission slip at either Kids’ Cafe location.
Kids’ Cafe is just one of the many charitable programs The Well provides. Information about additional programs can be found at wellsunnyside.org. The Well is a faith-based nonprofit that was founded in August 2008 in response to The Great Recession. One of the goals of The Well, according to Creamer, is to “lessen the impact of poverty. We’ve helped a lot of the disadvantaged people.”
Reach Megan Neary at (614)440-9124