Needs increase for local summer lunch programs

Channel 2's Craig Lucie reports

ATLANTA — More than a million Georgia children get a free or reduced lunch at school, but now that school is out, many need help.

Channel 2’s Craig Lucie went to the English Avenue neighborhood where volunteers are coming together to hand out some much needed meals for children who do not have much.

While he was at the Lindsay Street Baptist church, he met several children who were excited and so were their parents.

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“It saves a lot,” said Terisha Jackson.

Jackson went with a friend after they heard about the Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program Monday.

“She was walking down the street and someone told her they were serving stuff for the kids,” said Jackson.

This is the fourth year Action Ministries with the help of AmeriCorps Vista, multiple volunteers and sponsors like Chick-fil-A have helped feed children in need.

“It’s greatly needed. In Georgia, there are more than 1 million kids who are eligible for free or reduced lunches and only 15 percent of them have access during summer time,” said Rachel Ruckart with Smart Lunch, Smart Kid.

Lunches like the one at Lindsay Street Baptist Church are happening in 17 Georgia counties and more than 25 cities. Program volunteers will be handing out lunches five days a week until school picks back up again.

“This is huge,” said Suzanne Baker.

Baker is the director of Friends of English Avenue and says she sees children in the neighborhood who need food and mentors.

“I basically see 4 and 5-year-olds walking on the streets, kicking rocks and playing in the dirt. One, it’s unsafe and two, they don’t have the extra-curricular stuff to get involved in to keep them out of trouble,” Baker said.

This year volunteers with Smart lunch, Smart Kid aim to serve 250,000 lunches and they need help too.

“We need volunteers very badly,” said Ruckart.