IMPORTANT: See attached pdf for detailed printable information on how you and your group can adopt a day and sponsor lunches to be delivered to kids in need this summer!
RER's Summer Lunch Program is designed to help close the food insecurity gap for children & youth who normally receive the benefit of the free/reduced lunch program during the school year. Research has shown that children in lower income households often experience a nutritional drop during the summer months that can impact their development - physically, mentally, and academically. According to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, one in four children in Georgia face more hunger in summer because there are no school meals to help meet rising levels of food insecurity.
This past summer (2106) RER provided approximately 350 sack lunches a day to such children/youth in the community. The lunches consist of 4 items: a sandwich (type varies by day), a salty snack (e.g. Sun Chips, Baked Lays, etc), a fruit snack (apples, bananas, fruit cups, fruit granola bars, etc.), and a bottled water or juice box drink.
When our current Executive Director, Andrew Peabody, came on board in 2013, he decided we needed to work with others in the community to begin to address the issue of food insecurity in the summertimes, and do so in a coordinated fashion. RER’s approach to summer feeding incorporates a particular hands-on, volunteer-intensive, grassroots approach that Peabody learned during his years on staff at MUST Ministries, and which he bought with him when he came to RER. “We are big fans of the Summer Food Service Program and other federally-supported feeding initiatives for kids, but for us, no system is better than actually preparing meals with your own hands, made from food you purchased yourself, and giving that gift to another in need," Peabody notes. “Our model depends wholly on the compassion and generosity of those in our community.”
RER is not alone, however, in providing summer lunches to children in need in Rockdale County. In the summer of 2014, RER joined forces with the Rockdale County Public Schools and BOLD Ministries as lead partners in a coalition we named “Be Bright, Eat Right Rockdale." Through the “Be Bright, Eat Right Rockdale” campaign we actively collaborated with other groups in the community to avoid duplication and coordinate efforts to meet the needs of the 11,000+ children and youth in RCPS eligible for free- or reduced-cost lunches during the school year.
In our first three summers, RER volunteers have distributed thirty-eight thousand one-hundred and forty-six meals (38,146) to children and/or youth living in low-income households in Conyers/Rockdale County!
The rising percentage of children eligible for free and/or reduced lunch in the Rockdale County Public School system is a key metric in assessing the financial stability of our community. That number is currently at roughly 11,000 of the 16,000 children and youth enrolled in RCPS. Since 2004 the percentage of students eligible for such services has risen from 37.7% to 66.2% (2013). Eligibility for the free/reduced school lunch program means a household's income is assessed at no more than 185% of the federally established poverty level.