For families where children receive free or reduced breakfasts and lunches at school, the upcoming summer brings a financial strain.
“Parents count on those kids eating at school every day,” said Perrysburg resident Connie Teare. “That’s two meals they don’t have to furnish them.”
That’s why Ms. Teare and other volunteers will serve hot lunches weekly to children and their parents as part of an initiative called Feed Our Families.
The program is every Friday, starting at noon, from June 15 to Aug. 17 at Zoar Lutheran Church, 314 E. Indiana Ave. in Perrysburg.
After the free hot meal, parents can receive free groceries at the church. But it isn’t a typical food bank with nonperishable items. Instead, the church will offer fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat to help those in need.
“Everybody only thinks of Perrysburg as a well-to-do community,” said Ms. Teare, who coordinates the program.
But there are several mobile home parks in the area and other residents in Perrysburg – and throughout Wood County – are losing their homes or struggling financially in the economy, which is why the Feed Our Families program is so important, she said.
Last summer, the volunteers served more than 15,000 meals in nine weeks.
The program, in its fourth year, runs largely by word-of-mouth although school children who receive free and reduced meals at school were given letters to take home. The program is geared to families with children who received free or reduced lunches during the school year, but it is open to any Wood County residents.
Ms. Teare relies on private donations, bargains at Aldi, and discounted meat sold from other food banks to provide the food. Volunteers, from local Boy Scouts to retired senior citizens to workers from local businesses, help serve the meals.
“It’s a community effort,” she said.”People know what we’re doing and they like it. That’s how we do it.”
Before someone goes to the first meal, volunteers ask people to call the church at 419-874-4346 to register so volunteers can estimate how many meals they need to make. The program is open to Wood County residents. Parents are asked to bring identification and proof of residency, such as a current bill, the first time they attend.
Contact Gabrielle Russon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6026.