Helping needy families eat during the summer

June 24, 2009 4:13:48 PM PDT
Philabundance got a big donation today - just in the nick of time.

The Citizens Bank Foundation has donated $25,000 to Philadelphia-based Philabundance and it's no accident the contribution comes as kids are getting out of school.

At its best, summer means kids laughing and playing in city pools. But this summer will not be a pretty picture for about 200,000 kids across the Delaware Valley.

They count on school for at least one, if not two, balanced meals a day. Without that, relief organizations say, their families often are reduced to drastic measures.

"The whole family just basically stretches," said Bill Clark of Philabundance. "We've known families that will eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And for snacks. You know, Cheerios without milk."

That's why today Citizens Bank came to the Philabundance warehouse in North Philadelphia to hand over a check for $25,000. Joining in the effort is the Phillies, represented today by the Phillie Phanatic.

"We're talking about feeding kids in the summer months," said Dan Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank president. "There's no mission more important than that in Philadelphia."

For thirty cents a meal, Philabundance says it can put a well-rounded plate on the table, like chicken and dumplings with a fruit salad or tacos with a side of veggies.

Still, despite their best efforts, they know a lot of kids are going to go to bed this summer with empty bellies.

With the bad economy, demand is up at least thirty percent. And even today's big check won't cover that. In fact, Philabundance says it needs the public to step in with at least $100,000.

Years ago, Virginia Reyes of North Philadelphia relied on Philabundance to help her feed her kids. This summer she's back, looking for help again.

"They helped me a lot when I was raising my kids," she said. "Now I help my granddaughters and great-grandkids. And it's a wonderful thing."

Philabundance hopes a lot of folks across the Delaware Valley decide to forgo a latte or other treat this summer, so they can make wonderful things happen for other children in need as well.

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