With the cost of food rising, a church in Brick is offering help for families of schoolchildren just in time for a summer break: a food pantry geared specifically toward kids.
The pantry, run by St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church on Route 88, will be open Saturdays from 10 am to noon starting June 18 and running through Sept. 3. Visiting families will receive a pre-packaged bag of kid-friendly groceries, including fresh fruit and healthy snacks, as well as meal staples like pasta.
“We started to think about the gaps we might be able to fill, and we thought about children who are on summer break and don’t have school lunches available to them,” said Rev. Maria Sanzo, the church’s vicar. “We have somebody from our church who works for the Brick school system who says there’s a definite need there. We also do a backpack program in September where we fill backpacks with school supplies.”
According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 20 million children across the country receive free or low-cost lunches each school day. Summer break could be extra challenging on that front his year because soaring inflation and supply-chain problems have driven up the price of food.
‘Buy food or get gas’:Toms River food giveaways still needed, after two years, 1.5M pounds
Titled “Eat Up! Food for Kids,” St. Raphael’s pantry does not take requests per se, but will work with families to meet specific needs.
“If we know of a family who needs extra milk or has a food allergy, we’ll take that into consideration,” said Christie Perfetti Williams, who is coordinating the pantry. “We’re hoping to get to know the families that come, and that will help us be able to provide for them as best as we can.”
Toms River:HOPE Center gives residents a helping hand in difficult times
Perfetti Williams said the church is not currently seeking donated goods for the pantry.
“As of now our community has really stepped up and filled it to the brim, which is awesome,” she said. “As the summer goes on, if we get lots of families to show up, we might need some more help.”
For more information, email email@example.com, call 732-458-5711 or visit the pantry’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/EATUPFoodForKids.
Jerry Carino is community columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.