|REFB seeking volunteers to deliver meals
The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) – the region’s leader in hunger relief – is seeking hundreds of volunteers to help distribute healthy meals to low-income children throughout Sonoma County this summer. Now in its 11th year, the ConAgra Foods Foundation Hunger-Free Summer program needs volunteers to serve up nutritious hot meals, deliver meals to sites and facilitate fun, educational activities to thousands of local children, ranging in age from tots to teens.
The need is particularly high in Rohnert Park-Cotati and Santa Rosa.
When the Summer Lunch program began in 2004, 15,000 meals were served. Last summer more than 84,000 meals were served at 47 sites. The reality is that 30,000 children rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but often don’t get enough to eat during the summer break. The REFB aims to fill this meal gap for children believing that adequate and proper nutrition is vital to ensuring our children develop their minds and bodies to become thriving members of the community.
“The increased need for hunger relief faced by local families during the summer is not surprising, given that 30,000 children rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year,” said David Goodman, Executive Director of the REFB. “We are grateful to our community for continuing to support efforts to end hunger for some of its most vulnerable neighbors – low-income children.”
This meal program also includes recreational activities when possible. As in previous years, this year’s program will include garden-based nutrition education – an eight-week program consisting of gardening, nutrition and physical activities. Individuals and organizations with appropriate physical and educational skills to share with children are encouraged to volunteer.
Running from June 2-Aug. 8, the Summer Lunch program is a collaborative effort bringing together the nutrition departments of Santa Rosa and Healdsburg school districts, Boys & Girls Clubs, Burbank Housing, neighborhood youth programs, faith-based groups, other organizations and hundreds of volunteers.
Volunteers are needed one or more days per week during lunchtime throughout the 10-week program. Volunteers are encouraged to team up with friends and colleagues to share duties, and must be 18 or older to volunteer.
“This program would not be successful without the generous commitment of time and support by hundreds of volunteers, and we’re counting on the community’s continued help this summer,” said Itzul Gutierrez, the REFB’s programs manager.
For information on volunteering, contact Vanessa Wallace at (707) 523-7902 ext. 155 or go to www.refb.org.