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Sack lunch program to begin June 11

June 7, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

This summer, Jenn Payne and a group of volunteers are preparing and handing out sack lunches for area children to combat hunger as students rely on school lunch programs over the year.

"It's hard to explain why we started," Payne said. "I knew about the weekend backpack program which made me think of when I was a child. Me and my sister went to the park all summer for lunches. It was something we looked forward to everyday."

According to No Kid Hungry, a national non-profit campaign, millions of kids across the country rely on schools for regulars meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates more than 12 million in the US live in "food insecure homes", which means families do not have enough food to feed every family member to lead a healthy lifestyle. To address this issue in the North Tama area, each lunch through this program consists of a sandwich, a fruit, a healthy fun snack (granola bar, fruit snack, etc), string cheese and a juice box. Lunches are being made at the Sunrise Hill Care and Rehab Center then delivered to Taylor Park on Tuesday and Thursdays at noon. The program will be fully licensed by the Iowa Health Department and will be required to follow certain procedures. The program has a Facebook page available so people can tell Payne how many lunches they need for their kids each week.

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"The first week the items are being donated by the nursing home," Payne said. "Since launching the Facebook page last week we have already received $600 in donations from community members. We will have a fundraiser at a later date also."

To sign up for the sack lunch program, families are ask to go to the "Traer Summer Sack Lunch Program" Facebook page or call/text Payne at 319-429-6451 or Kris Whitmore if they are uncomfortable posting in the comments. The groups hopes for this coming Tuesday is to get enough kids to come to continue this program throughout the summer.

"My message to anyone nervous would just be don't be," Payne said. "This has nothing to do with anyone's financial situation or status. Summer is stressful for parents so for two days a week they know their child can get a healthy lunch and not have to worry about it. If they are uncomfortable they can call myself personally or Kris and we can keep them anonymous."

The first sack lunch distribution will be held on June 11 at Taylor Park. The Traer Star-Clipper will provide additional coverage of the program as it continues.



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