Second summer lunch program concludes with 154 percent increase in daily meals for local children

A local summer lunch program needs a part-time coordinator after significantly expanding in its second year.

Volunteers with Douglass Community Services (DCS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided 154 percent more daily lunches to local children in 2018 than in the previous year, as distribution locations changed to meet a growing local need. Super Suppers will also be distributed during the school year to Hannibal students who are active in after-school activities like band, sports and clubs — providing a vital service for the children and volunteers.

A total of 175 children received meals June 25, compared to about 80 meals per day in 2017.

With the surge in summer lunches, DCS seeks a coordinator who will oversee food preparation, delivery and meeting USDA guidelines.

Stacey Nicholas, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), said the increase was due to three factors: a consistent approach throughout the summer, increased community awareness and opening up the opportunity to Vacation Bible Schools and other youth-centered events.

Nicholas said providing children with needed meals can make a profound difference for local families. “Parents are working very hard to make sure their children have all the building blocks for a successful life, she said. “But sometimes, there are just not enough resources, even when parents are doing their best. Both Summer Lunch and Super Suppers are here to support youth and families succeed.”

A few locations were altered to allow more access for children throughout Hannibal and Palmyra. Children received meals from June to the final week of August at locations including First Methodist Church, Anderson Estates in Palmyra, Centerville Road Apartments, Hannibal Manor Apartments, Eugene Field Elementary School playground, Dorsey Park, Green Meadow Apartments, Park Terrace Apartments and South Side Baptist Church.

“Providing these meals is both an honor and humbling,” Nicholas said. “All of us in Hannibal care about our youth and helping them be the best that they can be. The foundation to that success is to ensure that children have enough nutritious foods.”