St. Joseph’s summer food program more popular than ever in Grand ForksJune might not be off to a hot start in Grand Forks, but St. Joseph’s summer food program is. The social care group is in its sixth year offering free lunches to area children, and early numbers show the program is getting more use than ever.
By: Robb Jeffries, Grand Forks Herald
June might not be off to a hot start in Grand Forks, but St. Joseph’s summer food program is.
The social care group is in its sixth year offering free lunches to area children, and early numbers show the program is getting more use than ever.
In the first summer, St. Joseph’s two lunch sites served about 3,000 meals total. This year, the group has seven sites in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, and is averaging 385 lunches per day, putting it on pace to give away 3,000 in its first two weeks.
“I don’t know if this is just awareness, or what is making it so popular this year,” said JoAnn Brundin, executive director.
The lunches are available to all families with children each weekday through July 26.
Thursday was busy enough at the University Park site that volunteers ran out of meals.
“We went and got some Uncrustables and it all worked out in the end,” said Skye Albert, the University Park site manager. “Now that it’s warm out, it’s nice for the kids to get to come out and enjoy a meal at the park.”
Jeremy Hoffarth, Grand Forks, brought his youngsters to University Park for the program. Hoffarth children’s — Thomas, 10, Adam, 7, and Isabel, 5 — ate French bread pizzas, blueberries, green peppers and drank milk under a blue sky before playing at the park.
“It’s great to just pick up Isabel from summer kindergarten and to have the boys already here,” Hoffarth said. “On hot days they can go to the splash park or run around.”
The program helps give parents peace of mind, he said.
“It’s not that I mind the cooking,” Hoffarth said, “but I already have to plan their dinners. Having to come up with little lunches on top of that is tough. They can be picky sometimes.”
The summer food program is volunteer-driven, Brundin said, with some of the volunteers going above and beyond to help the children.
“We have some people that come in to make the lunches at Holy Family Catholic Church, then they go out to the sites and help serve the kids,” she said.
“They are so awesome,” Albert said. “Honestly, this program wouldn’t be possible without them. I would be completely lost if there weren’t so many hands in the kitchen and helping out.”
She said some of the kids at University Park like to help the volunteers.
“It’s nice to see the younger generation be so excited and willing to help out instead of just running off with their food,” Albert said. “They always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Everyone that comes through here are so special.”
Call Jeffries at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1105; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.