Backpack blessings

Kennedy Austin held out her glazed treat for everyone to see, eager to take a bite. It was dessert time for the 10-year-old Grand Haven girl, after her lunch consisting of a sandwich, fruit and vegetables - all courtesy of The Salvation Army's summer food service.
Tribune Staff
Jul 2, 2012

“We get lots of different types of food," Kennedy said. "It’s all pretty good.”

Kennedy joined about 20 peers in late June at Grand Haven Christian School.
The students are members of the Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority’s summer recreation program.

Each day, the group travels to The Salvation Army building on North DeSpelder Street and participates in its summer food service, which runs through Aug. 17. For the second straight year, The Salvation Army offers free lunches to children under age 18.

“It’s nice for the people who do live nearby in low-income homes,” said Megan Czarnecki, a receptionist for The Salvation Army who also assists with the summer recreation program at the school. “We want to give these kids the nutritious lunch they need.”

That lunch varies from day to day. It usually contains a main portion, fruit, vegetable and milk. The program is open to children regardless of their family’s financial situation.

The participation rate is up slightly from last year, said Capt. Sally Davis of The Salvation Army.

“It varies from day to day, but we have served 50 to 60 meals per day so far,” she said. “Last year, it was about 45.”

Funding is brought in through federal government sources — similar to that of the free and reduced lunch program administered during the school year. Davis travels to The Salvation Army's Muskegon chapter each day and brings the food back to Grand Haven.

Those interested in receiving the lunches can show up to The Salvation Army’s doors from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Skyler Amos, 11, enjoys a meal from the nonprofit every day, along with her summer recreation friends.

“I think it’s nice," she said. "Some people don’t get to bring lunches, so this helps."

— By Jacob Bolitho, Tribune correspondent

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