For the past 10 years, hundreds of children have received free meals each summer through the federal government’s Summer Feeding Program. Authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act, the program was designed to serve areas with a high number of children who receive free and reduced lunches at school. In Union County, all children qualified for the free meals.
The program was operated locally by the Union County YMCA, which provided meals to churches and other organizations.
This year, however, many groups that previously participated in the program chose not to, which shifted the financial burden to the YMCA. Officials there estimated it would cost as much as $3,000-$4,000 to operate the program, which is more than the Y could afford.
The dominoes kept falling.
Because there will be no food program, the Town of Carlisle was forced to cancel its Summer Lunch and Activities Program, which last year served 30 children ages 3-14.
In these tough economic times, finding extra money to help support such a program is next to impossible. Local civic organizations have already decided where their charitable donations are going, while municipal and county governments are struggling to meet leaner budgets for next year.
The YMCA says it hopes to bring back the meal program next year.
Unfortunately, good intentions do little to fill a child’s empty stomach.