June 13, 2023
Starting this week, parents struggling with food insecurity can pick up homemade lunches for their kids through Philabundance's LunchBox program, designed to fill in the gaps for families who rely on free school lunches during the academic year.
LunchBox will run Tuesdays-Saturdays over the course of 12 weeks, beginning June 13 and ending Sept. 2. It will cater to children ages 18 and under from the highest-need communities in the nine counties Philabundance serves across southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey — Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Burlington, Gloucester, Camden and Salem counties.
More details on locations will be announced on Friday, a Philabundance spokesperson said via email, but families will be able to pick up the meals at designated sites at their convenience. This makes LunchBox distinct from the Summer Food Service Program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which generally requires children to eat meals on-site.
Philabundance aims to give away 50,000 lunches by the end of summer. As for what kids can expect, sample menus include a turkey and cheese sandwich on a whole grain roll with chopped ranch salad and fresh fruit, as well as grilled chicken strips with BBQ sauce, red potato salad, baby carrots and fresh fruit. The meals will be prepared by volunteers and chefs-in-training at Philabundance Community Kitchen, which provides vocational courses for low-income adults.
The hunger relief organization also plans to provide a smaller batch of breakfast kits, containing shelf-stable items like cornflakes, maple brown sugar oatmeal, pear cups and juice.
Philly's office of homeless services says that 16.3% of city residents struggle with food insecurity, which translates to roughly 255,500 people, but rates can be even higher among children. Almost 31% of kids in Philadelphia County experienced food insecurity in 2020, according to Philabundance.