NEAR Prepares Food for Kids in Need
Even though the landscape still looks like winter, food shelves like NEAR are preparing to feed hungry kids during the summer months when donations are low and the need is high. Volunteers from Target worked at NEAR this week to help pack boxes for the school’s lunchbox program.
“In the summer, kids are home from school and there’s no free lunches and no free breakfast,” says Jan Monroe, who has worked at NEAR food shelf for 35 years. “It helps them.”
NEAR is a nonprofit that serves qualifying residents in New Hope, Crystal and part of Robbinsdale. The volunteer organization is a cooperative effort of 12 area churches and helps with food, Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes, back-to-school supplies, and school’s out lunch boxes.
“I’m in this for the children,” says Monroe. “Children are the most important thing we have. We just want to make sure they are fed and happy.”
Volunteers chip in
The volunteers from Target are packing 22 pound boxes full of snacks and food to help 250 families. Perishable items like lunch meat, cheese and fruit will be added at a later date.
“We like to contribute to areas in the community and Crystal is an area who loves and supports Target, so why not give back to them,” says Kyle Goethe, a Target employee who has volunteered twice at NEAR. “I’m walking away from this situation and at the end of the day, I’m going to feel much better about what I was able to contribute even if it is just a little bit more.”
Feeding children from low-income families is a challenge for food banks and schools alike. The Minnesota Department of Education says its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) reaches only 18 percent of low-income families that normally receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year.