SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Making sure kids stay active and learning during the summer months but the mission is greater than that.
For some kids, it’s not just about keeping up to date with their studies.
It’s about getting the meals they would usually get at school that sometimes they can’t get at home.
Eric Chatham is a site supervisor for the summer meals program run by the Schenectady Inner City Ministry. He gets a real charge out of seeing the children benefit.
“What an experience it’s so beyond the lunches, just the look on their faces,” Chatham said.
It’s the only real meal of the day, for some.
“We see young people line up all the time and they are just eager or anxious for that meal,” Rev. Phillip Grigsby said.
They’re also excited about the activities provided around meal times.
“This becomes their summer day care program, with reading activities, all kinds of things, arts and crafts and the children just love ’em so much’,” Chatham said.
With two mobile trucks that can serve breakfast and lunch now, they can reach more kids who can’t get to a designated site.
“People stay to their own neighborhood and locale so you go where people are,” Rev. Grigsby said.
This year, there’s a greater focus on more nutritious meals with their current vendor, red rabbit, preparing fresh meals.
“Their mission is to provide healthy and delicious meals to children with foods they often don’t have the opportunity to experience in the inner cities,” Olivia Cox, Summer Meals Coordinator, said.
Many who care for little ones and struggle to make ends meet are grateful.
“Times are hard, I’m disabled but I still try to work within my budget some of these programs benefit a lot of people, it benefits me.”
The kids benefit most! Eric builds relationships with them and through their conversation over a healthy meal in a social setting, with fun activities and good role models, seeds are planted for their future.
“You have the kids who say they’re gonna be police officers, I even had one who said he was gonna be the president so I’m watching him, I’ll cast my vote for him in about 20 years,” Chatham said.