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Without free school meals, local kids are at risk

West Nashville Dream Center distributing lunches prepared by Second Harvest to children in the Cumberland View Apartments in North Nashville.

Aalaya has ambitious plans for her future. She wants to be a veterinarian…. a doctor…. and an artist when she grows up. She also knows the importance of eating healthy foods so she can learn and grow.

“I have four favorite vegetables: cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes and lettuce,” she said.

The 2nd grader, like many children in Middle and West Tennessee, receives free breakfast and lunch during the school year. But when school cafeterias close for summer break, these children lose access to the food they depend on.

During the summer months, struggling families have to provide 10 additional meals per week per child. In a typical 10-week summer break, that’s 100 meals per child. These additional meals are a tremendous burden for low-income families who have difficulty providing enough food even when school is in session.

This is a huge challenge for Aalaya’s family. When her mom is at work, Aalaya’s grandmother watches her and her baby sister, who has Down syndrome. While good nutrition for both girls is a priority, fresh fruits and vegetables are often out of reach on the family’s limited income.

You can help.

Second Harvest sponsors the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at sites throughout Middle Tennessee each summer – providing breakfasts, lunches, or suppers to help ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.

This includes the West Nashville Dream Center, a Second Harvest Partner Agency, SFSP distribution at the Cumberland View Apartments in North Nashville – where Aalaya is one of about 30 children who receive free, healthy meals twice a week.

“Coming here, I have so much fun,” said Aalaya. “We play at the park and then have yummy food. It’s really yummy.”

No child should ever have to worry how or when they will eat their next meal. Help us ensure children like Aalaya have the fuel they need to grow all summer long.

Together, we can make this a Hunger Free Summer!

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