September launches what many Cape Codders refer to as “Locals’ Summer.” It’s the return to “business as usual” after an often-times chaotic summer. It’s also an exciting time of new beginnings with the start of a school year. However, for some families, it’s also a time of economic stress that greatly impacts the Cape’s most vulnerable residents: our children.
We live in a beautiful resort community. Our year-round residents rely on the summer season for financial footing. Those that thrive in hospitality and other seasonal jobs during the summer often face hardship during the off-season. Uncertain income, unreliable housing, and pockets of “food deserts” leave many parents unable to provide nutritionally-balanced meals for their families…or perhaps none at all. As a result, the only meals many children can rely on are the ones they receive while in school. Nationally, 69% of children are on the federal free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs in their schools. Locally, over 26% of elementary-age kids are food insecure – going home without knowing where their next meal is coming from.
Enter Cape Kid Meals. Founded in 2014 off of the model of Blessings in a Backpack, Cape Kid Meals was created to provide children with food for the weekends during the school year, significantly reducing mental, emotional, and physical health vulnerabilities.
Across the Cape each week at church halls and schools, teams of volunteers quietly pack hundreds of bags of food, which are delivered to schools on Fridays. Each bag contains 13 items: 2 breakfast, 2 lunch, milk, juice, 6 healthy snacks and 1 piece of fresh fruit. All items are easy to open and prepare and shelf-stable regardless of the child’s living situation. The food bags are discreetly placed in the backpacks of the children who need it most – those selected by teachers, the school social worker, and the school nurse. The entire process is confidential.
The Coop has proudly supported this wonderful program since 2015.
Over the last 3 years, we’ve underwritten the cost of the white poly bags the volunteers use to pack the food in. This year, the program has expanded to new schools, creating the need for more bags. We purchased 15,000 bags this year totaling over $4,000. This donation enables Cape Kid Meals to serve more kids with the money they would normally spend on bags. In fact, because of the bank’s contribution, CKM expanded to two new schools this year. And, with the start of the new school year, the first shipment of bags went out to the volunteers on Tuesday, September 11. The organization’s vision is to have no hungry elementary school children on Cape Cod over the weekend. With that in mind, the support of the local business community is greatly needed!
If you’re interested in supporting Cape Kid Meals either through a donation of money, food, or your time, please visit www.capekidmeals.org. Together, we can all help them feed the Cape’s children this weekend.
Christina Bologna is the Marketing Officer with The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod. She’s also active in numerous Cape Cod organizations and non-profits, including WE CAN, Calmer Choice, and serving on the Board of Directors for Cape Cod Young Professionals.