|REFB seeds volunteers for summer lunch program
The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) is seeking volunteers to help distribute healthy meals to low-income children throughout Sonoma County this summer.
The annual program, now titled the “ConAgra Foods Foundation Hunger-Free Summer Program,” is in its ninth year. Volunteers are needed to serve nutritious hot meals, deliver meals to sites and facilitate fun educational activities to thousands of local children, ranging in age from tots to teens.
When the Summer Lunch Program began in 2004, 15,000 meals were served. Last summer more than 102,000 meals were served at 42 sites. Given the continued decline of summer school sessions and organized summer programs due to the recession, numbers are expected to increase again this summer.
“The increased need for hunger relief faced by local families during the summer is not surprising,” said David Goodman, Executive Director of the REFB. “One single father of twins told the REFB that after losing his successful business, our free summer lunch program enabled his sons to eat nutritious meals five days a week. We are grateful to our community for continuing to support efforts to end hunger for some of its most vulnerable neighbors, low-income children.”
The meals program includes recreational opportunities when possible. Last year the program included garden based nutrition education, an eight-week program consisting of gardening, nutrition and physical activities. Individuals and organizations with fun and educational skills to share with children are encouraged to volunteer.
Running from June 4-Aug. 10, ConAgra Foods Foundation Hunger-Free Summer Program is a collaborative effort bringing together the nutrition departments of Santa Rosa and Healdsburg school districts, Boys and Girls Clubs, Burbank Housing, neighborhood youth programs, faith based groups, other organizations and hundreds of volunteers.
This summer, volunteers are needed at sites throughout Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park-Cotati.
Volunteers are needed one or more days per week during lunchtime throughout the 10-week program.
Volunteers are encouraged to team up with friends and colleagues to share duties, and must be 18 or older to volunteer.
“This would not be successful without the generous commitment of time and support by hundreds of people, and we’re counting on the community’s continued help this summer,” said Itzul Gutierrez, the REFB’s community programs coordinator.
For information on volunteering, contact Community Programs Coordinator, call 523-7900, ext. 32, or go to www.refb.org.