Hannibal Rotary Club donates $15,000 for delivery van to aid in growing Super Suppers, summer lunch youth programs

Every day, volunteers assemble and deliver “Super Suppers” to students at Hannibal schools and the Hannibal YMCA. The Hannibal Rotary Club provided a boost to the after-school program and the Summer Lunch program with a donation of $15,000 for a new delivery van.

Douglass Community Services (DCS) Outreach Coordinator Stacey Nicholas described how the Super Supper program provides a meal to every student in Hannibal who is staying after school for a club, sport or other activity. The Super Suppers have expanded to the Hannibal YMCA as well, and volunteers are preparing for a busy Summer Lunch program. Instead of transporting groceries in her vehicle, Nicholas said the programs will soon benefit from the capacity of a Ford Transit Connect van.

DCS is a United Way participating agency, and the combined impact of the after-school and summer lunch programs has been growing throughout the region — DCS Executive Director Stephanie Cooper said 437,000 meals were served to youth last year within the United Way coverage area of Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties. Nicholas said 3,000 Super Supper was served in March throughout Hannibal Schools and the YMCA, and children received 17,000 meals since September through the partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Cooper said one of her friends is a school nurse who helps students each Monday with stomachaches, headaches and other ailments. She told Nicholas some of the children ate their last full meal Friday at school.

Food insecurity is the lack of adequate access to food, which affects one in five seniors. More than 960,000 people living in the five-county United Way coverage area receive a low income, making it difficult to buy enough food, United Way Executive Director Denise Damron said.

“Do you know that in Hannibal classrooms, two out of three children don't have enough food?” she said.

The Hannibal Rotary Club President and Hannibal YMCA Executive Director Eric Abts said that on average, 75 children receive a Super Supper at the YMCA each day. He said that the meals have boosted their behavior along with their nutritional needs.

Nicholas said excessive hunger can alter a child's DNA and can lead to health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease later in life. When people face food insecurity, they are less likely to make healthy food choices, she said.

Nicholas said the new van will boost daily volunteer deliveries from the DCS kitchen. From there, food is distributed to Hannibal schools and the YMCA. Nicholas said that the Summer Lunch program will soon begin, with volunteers serving meals to children at parks and other locations throughout town.

DCS needs additional volunteers to prepare and distribute meals. It can be reached by calling 573-221-3892.

Meal programs are making a lifelong difference for youth who will grow up to be future leaders, Nicholas said.

“They're our children,” she said. “They're always our children.”

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com