Lunch at Hunt's Pool
Food adds sense of security for hungry kids
From left, Sibit Kiir, Jon Manheim and Jenna Merritt of Southern New Hampshire Services set up for lunch at Hunt's Pool on Thursday as part of Southern New Hampshire Services' summer food program. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Inside the chests were chilled treasures: free brown-bag lunches, compliments of the federal government.
Teenager James Bachand said the free lunches help stretch the family groceries until the next food stamps arrive eight days later.
Southern New Hampshire Services, a social service agency, distributes free meals at 25 sites spread among Manchester, Nashua and Derry. Workers gave out 2,306 meals at Manchester's 15 sites during the first four days they were opened, 459 meals at Nashua's seven sites over the first five days and 42 meals at Derry's three sites over the first four days.
No site hands out more lunches than the one outside the Maple Street pool, less than a block from Beech Street Elementary School, where 96.89 percent of students were eligible, according to Kathleen Devlin, community health and nutrition services director for SNHS.
During the kickoff week in Manchester last week, workers gave out 190 meals at Hunt Memorial Pool on Monday, 187 on Tuesday, 140 on a rainy Wednesday and 108 on Thursday.
Teenager Corey Holmes ranked the yogurt tops so far, better than the tuna sandwich doled out the day before. If not for the summer free-lunch program, Holmes said he would be eating less-nutritional pasta at home.
Some kids double-dip at lunchtime.
"My kids eat at home, and then they come here," Vicki-Jo Gabaree said of her three teenagers. "My kids are piggies."
She thinks the program is a good idea and noticed those eating are "a lot of little kids mainly."
Gabaree said she thought taxpayer money was well spent on the community children.
Marie Emmons waited with her sons, Adam, 9, and Zack, 12, who have come each day so far."It's good for the kids, especially the low-income families," she said. "It helps us save money, compared to spending $30 at McDonald's, instead coming here for a meal for free pretty much."
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