Free lunch for kids this summer in Long Beach

The nonprofit organization Feeding the Gulf Coast hosted a summer event party today in Long Beach for kids 18 and under.

School is out for summer which means more kids and parents are looking for ways to have fun. Programs across the Gulf Coast such as the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA partner with the nonprofit organization Feeding the Gulf Coast to give kids involved in these programs an outlet to do just that with their summer party. Twelve-year-old Hayden Seward said, “We’re like hanging around with all the little kids and stuff and having this function with all the bounce houses.”

Feeding the Gulf Coast Nutrition Programs Manager Monica Williams said, “We have our DJ providing the fun music which the kids love to dance to no matter what they’re doing and some corn hole, tug-of-war, popcorn, snow cones.”

But for some, no school also means harder access to affordable lunch. Feeding the Gulf Coast serves food to kids in eight counties in South Mississippi. While these kids are definitely having fun dancing to the beat, Feeding the Gulf Coast’s mission is to make sure they eat. They’re spreading awareness about child hunger during the summer. “One in four children in Mississippi suffers from hunger insecurity. So, we’re trying to fill the gap of during the school year when free lunches are being provided. During summer, we want to take over and make sure our children are still being fed while school is not in session,” said Williams.

Lunches always come with a type of sandwich or wrap, fruit, milk, and a grain. “Last year in the eight counties we served, 240,000 kids are on free and reduced lunch in South Mississippi and so there’s definitely a need, sometimes that’s the only meal they receive until the next day,” said Williams.

President and CEO of Feeding the Gulf Coast Cathy Pope encourages organizations to get involved in their program and become a food site this summer. “It’s a federal program so that means it is free for the site and no charge for the child obviously. We just want to get the word out that that’s how we’re feeding hungry children for the summer.”

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