With school soon out of session for the summer, many Palm Beach County students won’t have access to the free and reduced lunches they rely on. The Palm Beach County Food Bank (PBCFB) predicts that more children and families will need food assistance over the summer due to rising gas prices, record inflation and rent increases. To offset the anticipated need, long-time partner Lois Pope and her LIFE Foundation recently donated $450,000 in proceeds from this year’s ‘Lady in Red’ gala to support Pope’s namesake program. Through the donation, it’s estimated that 437,837 meals will be provided to students on summer break via the Lois’ Food4Kids program.
“No child should ever go hungry, especially right here in our own backyard,” Pope says. “So while we have a small dent in the problem, there is so much more to be done and particularly given the current economic circumstances. I’m committed to working with the Palm Beach County Food Bank, and specifically the Lois’ Food4Kids program until we eradicate child hunger in the county.”
The Lois’ Food4Kids program is a year-round weekend and summer feeding initiative designed to help fill nutritional gaps children face when not in school. The program was created when the COVID pandemic began in 2020 and Pope decided to donate $1 million to PBCFB. The program focuses on schools, camps, libraries and local Boys and Girls Clubs. Students are given a bag full of nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods to take home on weekends and during summer and spring breaks when they do not have access to free and reduced lunches at school. Children are also given a family meal because it’s assumed that if a child is hungry, the family is hungry too.
“Last year, we distributed more than 131,000 meals through our 22 childhood hunger initiative partner agencies throughout Palm Beach County,” Jamie Kendall says, CEO of the PBCFB. “If that number astounds you, our distributed meals are projected to increase by at least two percent this year. While many families are making summer vacation plans, many more are dreading this time of year as they have reduced access to food assistance through the school system. This donation could not come at a more crucial time, and we are so grateful for Lois and the LIFE Foundation’s generous lifeline for kids and their families this summer.”
The PBCFB procures food from grocery stores, farmers, food distributors, wholesalers and other sources and provides it to almost 200 local community partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens and residential housing programs. Partner agencies distribute the products received, including culturally appropriate food and necessities like paper towels and diapers, to ensure families have access to food when needed most.
For more information about Lois’ Food4Kids program, please visit pbcfoodbank.org/programs or email [email protected].