Summer can be the most difficult of times for families living in poverty. Nearly 60 percent of South Carolina children qualify for free or reduced charge lunches at school, and vacation means their families must find the money to pay for those meals, with many already struggling just to survive.
Harvest Hope Food Bank serves up to 40 percent more families during the summer, averaging more than 50,000 meals provided each week to those in need. This summer, the food bank has launched a new program to serve hot, fresh and nutritious meals to kids, and Miss Columbia 2017, Suzi Roberts, is helping with the mission.
“We’re in about our fourth week of it and we’re really looking to expand it,” Harvest Hope Marketing Manager Jamie Peebles said of the Kid’s Cafe program. “We’ve had huge positive feedback, so we’re really excited about that, and we’re really excited to have Suzi out here.”
Roberts, who has made it her mission to work and advocate for children, learned about the program from Harvest Hope Government Relations and Grants Manager (and Anchor board member) Mary Louise Resch. Both are members of local nonprofit Women in Philanthropy, and when they realized how their causes overlapped, as Roberts explained, “We thought this was a really good opportunity for me to get involved.”
“A lot of the kids that I work with are definitely having issues, wondering where their next meal is going to come from,” Roberts added.”That’s obviously a huge part of a child being able to grow and learn and enter into successful adulthood.” She is working to help raise awareness of the program in hopes that people will donate the needed funds and food to expand it. She also took her turn in the kitchen, helping prepare the hot meals for the kids.
Kid’s Cafe currently serves about 1,000 hot meals each week. More information on the program for those who wish to help and information for those of any age in need of food is available at the Harvest Hope website.