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46 Years of Feeding Children

This summer marks an important milestone for Second Harvest Food Bank as we celebrate our 46th anniversary and continue our commitment to ensuring no child faces hunger with our annual Hunger Free Summer campaign. As schools close their doors for the season, many children lose access to the vital breakfasts and lunches they depend on. Our summer feeding initiatives, including Kids Cafes and Summer Feeding Sites, have become essential in bridging this gap and providing nutritious meals to those in need. 

The Genesis of Summer Feeding 

The story of our summer feeding programs is inseparable from the story of Janet Arning, a pivotal figure whose passion and dedication have shaped our efforts. Janet, who initially joined Second Harvest as a volunteer, quickly became a linchpin in our operations. With a heart full of compassion, Janet was no stranger to harmonizing resources and needs effectively. 

When Second Harvest was a smaller organization with just 13 employees, Janet wore multiple hats, from coordinating with Partner Agencies to managing food inventories and even conducting site visits. Her versatile role at Second Harvest was crucial as the organization began to expand and introduce new programs aimed at tackling hunger head-on. 

The Birth of Kids Cafes 

It was during one of her site visits to local community centers that Second Harvest staff had a realization. These centers, bustling with activity during the summer months, could serve as perfect venues for feeding children. The idea was simple yet profound: invite children and their families to community centers like Martha Bryan to enjoy meals together, fostering a sense of community and belonging. 

Janet worked alongside John Betty and Larry Reynolds to introduce Kids Cafes, which were a significant shift for Second Harvest. Previously, our interaction with the communities we served was more indirect, but Kids Cafes allowed us to engage directly with children and families, providing not just meals but a space to gather and grow together. In its early years, the program served nearly 2,000 children each week, a testament to its immediate impact. 

Building Community and Empowering Youth 

Janet’s vision extended beyond just feeding children; it was about empowering them. By partnering with youth empowerment centers, we ensured that our feeding programs offered more than food—they offered a chance to nurture and build the community. Janet reflects on this time as an era of building community ties and having a direct positive impact on the lives of many young individuals. 

“Food is foundational,” Janet often says. Kids Cafes and our summer feeding sites are not just about providing meals; they’re about creating environments where children can feel safe, supported, and part of a community. This approach has been a cornerstone of our work, inspired by the belief that caring for children and their nutritional needs is a “no-brainer.” 

Looking Ahead 

As we honor our 46th anniversary and celebrate the success of our Hunger Free Summer campaign, we remain committed to expanding and enhancing our summer feeding programs. The need is still great, and our mission is far from complete. But with continued support and community involvement, we can look forward to many more summers of ensuring that no child goes hungry. 

We invite you to join us in this mission—whether by volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the word. Together, we can make a significant impact and ensure that the spirit of community and care that Janet Arning helped to foster continues to thrive. 

Here’s to many more years of fighting hunger and feeding hope—one summer at a time. 

Chaque dollar que vous donnez aide à fournir au moins 4 repas à des familles dans le besoin grâce à Second Harvest.

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