Hungry kids will have more lunch options than ever when Schenectady Inner City Ministry’s Summer Lunch Program kicks off Monday.
The program, which will run rain or shine weekdays through Aug. 30, offers free lunches at locations around Schenectady specifically chosen to reach at-risk children. This year, there will be 22 sites as well as a new roving lunch wagon.
New lunch sites include Christ Centered Union Missionary Baptist Church on South Brandywine Avenue, State Street Presbyterian Church at Catherine and State streets, Consecration Temple C.O.G.I.C. on State Street, the New Day Christian Empowerment Center on Chrisler Avenue, miSci on Nott Terrace and the Hamilton Hill Arts Center on Schenectady Street.
A lunch menu and full schedule of summer lunch locations and serving times can be found at www.sicm.us/Programs Summer Lunch.html.
To volunteer for the Summer Lunch Program, call 374-2683.
The lunch wagon will make stops at Zoller Elementary School on Lancaster Street, McCathan’s Townhouses on Jerry Street, South Gate Apartments on Frank Street, Mt. Pleasant Bakery on Crane Street, the SICM Food Pantry on Albany Street and State Street Presbyterian Church. In late August, it will also make stops at the Quackenbush Pool on Forest Road and Hillhurst Pool on Campbell Street.
The lunch wagon will be a small yellow school bus clearly marked with a Summer Lunch banner.
“The reason why we chose a school bus is because it’s safe territory for children,” said Allison Williams, SICM’s summer lunch coordinator.
This year’s expansion of the number of lunch sites was much-needed, she said.
“We found out last year we served approximately 1,000 lunches a day but the need is 8,000 lunches a day.
That’s what the Schenectady school district feeds, free and reduced-price lunches per day. So we were just merely scratching the surface,” she said.
Last year, the Summer Lunch Program served more than 35,000 meals, said Janet Mattis, SICM’s community outreach coordinator.
It’s mainly volunteer-driven, and due to its expansion, more volunteers are needed.
Volunteer teams typically work at one site for a week. Two people are needed each day at the smaller sites, while the larger ones need three to five.
Fifteen high school and college interns also help run the program, Mattis noted.
Lunches, which are available to kids 18 and younger, will be catered by Whitson’s Culinary Group, except for at Collins Park in Scotia, which will be catered by Campus Kitchens at Union College.
Meals will include hot and cold menu items similar to those served at school.