Thanks for those who celebrated food programs
On behalf of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM), I am writing to thank the many who came out on July 9 to celebrate our 20th year of serving Summer Lunch to Schenectady’s children and the 40th anniversary of the federal Summer Food Service Program.
We appreciated the participation of Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, Assembly members Angelo Santabarbara and Philip Steck, Cora Schroeter, representing U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko’s office, Schenectady Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring, United Way of the Greater Capital Region representative Meredith Chimento, and SICM President Shirley Readdean and the Rev. Phillip Grigsby. City Council members Marion Porterfield, Vince Riggi and President Margaret King were present and also offered brief remarks.
Girl Scout Troop 1785 of Colonie provided face painting, and the Puppet People offered a puppet show (it was also their 20th anniversary). United Way of the Greater Capital Region provided special tote bags to all the children.
Now in our 20th year, the SICM free summer lunch program feeds hungry children at locations specifically targeted to reach the largest number of children in Schenectady. SICM was first involved in the Summer Lunch Program in 1995, serving one site in the city for six weeks in the summer.
Last year, 53,600 lunches were served at 24 sites during the entire school summer vacation, including a new mobile summer lunch wagon serving six stops.
This year, SICM has 24 stationery sites, as well as 12 sites being covered by two mobile Summer Lunch wagons. The NY State
Education Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture fund SICM’s summer lunch program, with additional support from the United Way of the Greater Capital Region and the City of Schenectady’s Community Development Block Grant program this year.
SICM received special support this year to start an additional mobile site through the Upstate NY Conference of the United Methodist Church and the CDPHP Workplace Team Challenge.
The need in the city is great. A recent survey indicated that 50.8 percent of children in Schenectady live in households at or below the poverty level. So many of the kids qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, the superintendent opted for the Community Eligibility Program so that all who come get free breakfast and lunch.
Even with the expansion, less than half of the children who need the lunch get it during the summer; but thanks to the broad community support, including 600-plus volunteers from many teams, SICM helps to fill in the summer vacation gap with the Summer Lunch program.
Janet H. Mattis
The writer is the Community Outreach and Internship coordinator for SICM.