The Summer Lunch Program in Galion ended yesterday, but the kids who have benefited from it were all smiles. Volunteers served them ice cream with all the toppings they desired (after they ate lunch, of course).
The ice cream party brought the eight-week program to an end. Since it started on June 9, lunches have been handed out five days a week and roughly 65-75 kids were provided with food each day at one of two sites. Also, every Friday kids received “weekend bags,” which included non-perishable food items.
This was the first year the program has been administered by the City of Galion. Earlier this week, Mayor Tom O’Leary explained there have been many discussions about the need to connect more with local families, and because Galion City Schools has a relatively high percentage of students who are eligible for free and reduced lunches, the city looked into how they are fed during the summer months.
“I think we did a good job this year of executing the program. It’s a small way to build community and show kids that the city and churches do care about them,” O’Leary commented. “And that’s all thanks to Jocelyn Watkins.”
Watkins has been an intern with the city since February and was tasked with getting a program moving. The Community Action Center has always been the lead agency to administer lunches in the past, but lacked volunteers. Watkins worked with the agency and also coordinated with local churches.
Bucyrus City Schools sponsored Galion’s lunch program this year. The cafeteria prepared the lunches and local volunteers picked them up and distributed at the Galion sites. Watkins explained that getting approved as a sponsor is a long process; by the time the city got involved, it was too late to approach Galion City Schools.
“It’s been going really well because of the fantastic volunteers. They’ve done a great job,” Watkins said. It has taken at least 30 volunteers from seven local churches, as well as some individual volunteers, to make the program possible. The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department also helped with picking up lunches.
For Watkins, leading the effort was a great experience because it relates to her career interests. This fall, she plans to enter a Master’s Degree program in social work at the University of Toledo.
While daily lunches will no longer be offered, weekend bags will still be available on Monday, Aug. 4, Friday, Aug. 8, Monday, Aug. 11 and Friday, Aug. 15. Come to the Libby Lane Apartments at noon, or East Park at 12:30 on these days.