Food program calls for a hand
Each year the TLC Community Center spends its summer helping to feed children in the community, and this year the center is asking the community to help them make this program a success.
The Summer Food Program provides a hot dinner meal and a bagged breakfast and bagged lunch to children throughout the community every Monday through Friday during the program period; the meals are delivered to several sites throughout Carter County. This year’s Summer Food Program – the center’s 11th – the will run from June 2 through August 8.
“In 2013 we served 48,960 meals and we fed an average of 320 children each day,” said Angie Odom, the center’s founder and director. “It started out very small and thanks to area churches and businesses we have grown. They have been so important to our success.
“We started our Summer Food Program in response to a need that we saw in our community. In working with the Carter County School System we spoke to several children who told us that during the summer when they are not in school they don’t get enough to eat. During the school year, many of these children receive the bulk of their nutritional needs from the school meal program. ”
According to Odom, many families in the community have incomes that qualify them for the free or reduced cost meal program through the school system. She said that during the summer months, when school meals are not available to the children the families often times find it financially difficult to provide enough food to meet their children’s nutritional needs.
“Seeing this need laid a burden on our hearts to start our Summer Food Program,” Odom said.
Last year, each child served by the program received a new pair of tennis shoes and a backpack of school supplies to help with their back to school needs. Also last year, each child received a free haircut as part of the program. Odom said she is hoping to be able to continue that this year.
New for the program this year, Odom said that her organization has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank, which will provide “backpacks” that will be delivered to the children along with their Friday meals. Each “backpack” contains food for the children to eat over the weekend when the Summer Food Program does not deliver meals.
With just under a month to go before the Summer Food Program at TLC gets under way, the Center is still in need of sponsors to help cover the costs of the food provided by the program.
“We have choices of different items they can sponsor for different days,” Odom said. Sponsors can choose to “sponsor” an item for a day, such as vegetables, snacks or the main course item for the hot meal. The cost for sponsoring an item varies based on what the item is.
The Center is also in need of donations of bottled water and resealable sandwich bags to help with the program as well as volunteers to assist with the preparation, packaging and delivery of the meals, Odom said.
“We need commitments for volunteers to sign up for days to work the program,” Odom said. “If they want to look at their calendar and commit to a day or they can just drop in, but it really helps us out to have the commitment so we can plan.”
The TLC Community Center does not receive any state or federal government funding Odom said, adding that the Center and all its programs –including the Summer Food Program – are funded entirely through donations from the community.
“It is amazing how a little from this person and a little from that person comes together to accomplish so much,” she said. “This is a way for the community to help the community.”
Odom said that for more information on the Summer Food Program or to find out about donating or volunteering for the program, call her at 895-8601.
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