MARLBOROUGH -To keep hunger at bay, the city, with the help of volunteers and contributions from local companies, is once again offering its free summer lunches for needy children.
“There is nothing more important than our kids,” U.S. Rep. James McGovern said yesterday outside the Walker Building with several program volunteers. “Kids don’t automatically have food in the summer.”
In its fifth year, the program provides free lunches to children who stop by designated pick-up spots across the city.
“The need is greater today than it was last year,” said McGovern, D-3rd, co-chairman of the House Hunger Caucus. “There are many families that are struggling.”
The city’s Human Services Department has fielded many calls this year from people who need a hand, director Rosalind Baker said.
“This is a wonderful program that inspires other local communities to take hunger into their own hands, and I am honored to be part of it,” said state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton.
More than one-third of the city’s public school students receive free or reduced lunches, but since that program ends once summer hits, the city offers the Children’s Summer Lunch Program.
If the program did not provide lunches, many children would likely just go without the meal, McGovern said.
The lunches contain 100-percent juice beverages, a meat and cheese sandwich, fruit and a snack.
Price Chopper donates a portion of the food. Marlborough Savings Bank sends volunteers. Businesses, organizations, churches and individuals also contribute.
People can volunteer, give checks or donate 100-percent juice boxes and peanut-free snacks.
All the donations go directly to the program, said state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough.
“This is a great model for other communities,” McGovern said.
The program, run by the Mayor’s Youth Commission with volunteer help, started last week and runs through Aug. 30. It has grown every year, Gregoire said.
“(The children) really are so appreciative,” she said. “No child should have to be hungry because of the circumstances their parents are in.”
Children can pick up lunches at the Walker Building, 255 Main St., rooms 106 and 108; the police substation at 87 Broad St.; the First United Methodist Church, 52 Church St.; the South Middlesex Opportunity Council’s Marlboro Resource Center, 133 East Main St.; and the youth center at Countryside Village, 450-460 Boston Post Road East. The lunches are available Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
To donate money, drop off a check in the Walker Building, room 106, made out to the Marlborough Children’s Summer Lunch Program.
Volunteers assemble the lunches at the Metro Church, 401 Elm St., on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m.
Any organization or housing community looking to request free lunches and anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Schwarz Ayres at 508-786-3040.