Summer food distribution program to start

Children and their parents in two New Hampshire counties will again benefit from a summer food program provided by Southern New Hampshire Services.

The annual food program is designed to provide continuity for kids whose only meal may be what they get when public schools are open.

The program, which is available in Nashua, is for ages 18 and younger. It will run from June 21-Aug. 25.

“It fits our mission – it’s about keeping them connected to nutrition when the school lunch program shuts down for the summer,” said Henry Harris, community outreach director for Southern New Hampshire Services.

The Nashua distribution sites – Casimir Place, Sullivan Park, Crown Hill pool, Dr. Norman Crisp

Elementary School playground, Bronstein Apartments, Nashua Police Athletic League, Centennial Pool and Belvedere Park –

are open to anyone.

“We look at where

the kids are going to

congregate: parks, pools,” Harris said. “It’s a bit of a moving target.”

The program covers children in need in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. The need over the course of the summer is great, with the agency averaging 20,000-30,000 meals in both counties.

This year, the agency is partnering with Nashua’s End Childhood Hunger campaign, which was announced this spring. The effort combines area service organizations with the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter to battle food insecurity for children.

Harris said his organization has had its summer program since 1978, and that the new partnership makes sense. Because of the partnership, the Soup Kitchen’s Quincy Street site will serve as an assembly point for the brown bag meals that will be distributed throughout Nashua. Also, take-home meals will be available Wednesday and Thursday nights.

“It makes it easier to get staff out into the community,” Harris said. “We’re excited about the partnership. I think it’s going to be a good summer.”

The Nashua distribution effort is also expanding this year, going up to nine sites from its previous three.

“Hunger looks different in America today than in other countries,” Harris said. “The biggest thing is the quality of food when it’s over-processed. Some food that is more affordable is not a high-quality form of nutrition. … When they get a homemade sandwich, fresh-cut vegetables and fruit, it adds value to what the kids are putting into their bodies every day.”

The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New Hampshire Department of Education. They contract with groups such as Southern New Hampshire Services to provide logistical support.

The agency hires people to travel to each distribution site and hand out the prebagged meals. Some sites, but not all, offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Harris said the program is a relief for parents, providing a “savings for the families, especially working families.”

“The open-to-all model seems to work best for our mission,” he said. “We’re out on the street engaging them where they’re at.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DonH.

DISTRIBUTION SITES

The summer food program will run from June 21-Aug. 25.

Belvedere Park: Breakfast 9:15-9:45 a.m., lunch 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Bronstein Apartments: Breakfast 8:30-9 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.-noon.

Casimir Place: Breakfast 8:30-9 a.m., lunch 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Centennial Pool: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-noon.

Crown Hill pool: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-noon.

Dr. Norman Crisp Elementary School playground: Breakfast 9:15-9:45 a.m., lunch 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Nashua Police Athletic League: Lunch noon-12:30 p.m.

Sullivan Park: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-noon.