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Monday, May 21, 2012 - 2:44am

Program Takes Lunch To Poor Kids

A Georgia nonprofit group is launching a new program to provide summer lunches to poor kids who normally would get meals at school.

The program launches first in Richmond County on Monday.

Action Ministries will provide about 400 brown-bag lunches every day to children in eight Georgia communities who can get a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year.

The program is targeting kids who don’t already get summer meals at state-run programs operating in churches or schools, said Mark Hellman, director of the Smart Lunch Smart Kids program for Action Ministries.

“We are going to go out into their communities, where they live, and take the lunches to them,” Hellman said. “We’re trying to fill that gap of those children that are not getting fed during the summer.”

Hellman said volunteers will assemble sandwiches and snacks, then drive them to the kids’ neighborhoods every day. They will also read to the kids and have other educational programs during lunch.

Hellman said these kids might not get lunch otherwise.

“These are the moms and dads that work two to three jobs and they go to bed every night with insecurity as to whether or not they’re going to be able to provide lunch and food for their children. These are the kids we’re serving. We want to remove that food insecurity from both the parents and from the children,” he said.

In addition to Richmond County, Action Ministries will take about 400 lunches each day to kids in Athens, Atlanta, Columbia County, Fayetteville, Gainesville, Jackson, Peachtree City, and Rome. The program will roll out over the next two weeks in those areas.

Nearly 28 percent of Georgia children live in homes where they lack access to enough food. And almost 900,000 participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program.

Hellman said he hopes to serve 100,000 meals to kids this summer.

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