Fighting hunger with the help of a new “pal”

By Lisa Ryan, Public Relations Associate



Imagine you’re a kid again, with summer days stretched out ahead of you. As much as you love having time to pursue a hobby or hang out with friends, something sours the taste of summer freedom.


It’s hard to be excited about a break from school when it’s also a break from the free breakfast and lunch you receive all school year long.


Young cheerleaders can train all day at their PAL site for the first time this summer.

This summer, 400,000 children in Philabundance’s nine-county service area are going without school meals. To make sure every child enrolled in its summer programming has nutritious food to fuel their summer fun, Philadelphia’s Police Athletic League (PAL) has partnered this year with Philabundance to offer free lunches for kids.


In years past, PAL programs, like cheerleading, ended midday because the program couldn’t provide lunch for all its participants. That’s different this summer, according to Philadelphia Police Captain Jarreau Thomas, who is also PAL’s commanding officer.


“Because of our relationship with Philabundance we’re able to offer full days,” he explains. “It’s a recipe for excellence.”


Although some kids bring a lunch with them to their PAL site each day, others grab a LunchBox prepared by students at the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK), a culinary job training program for adults with low-to-no income. Lunches include items like wraps and milk, and shelf-stable produce, hummus, and more.

“Because of our relationship with Philabundance we’re able to offer full days,” he explains. “It’s a recipe for excellence.”


Last week, girls returning to the summer cheerleading program said they preferred practicing for a full day instead of going home for the afternoon, because otherwise they’d just end up watching TV. At their PAL site, girls from elementary to high school formed a sisterhood, building up the trust and the skill required to lift each other up – literally – or spot a friend during a headstand.


Thomas said PAL not only provides fun and social opportunities, but also offers safety and supervision when school is out and parents are at work.


We’re grateful to PAL for expanding meal options to kids this summer. Without all community partners like them, we couldn’t feed those in need. And thanks to GIANT Food Stores’ generous support, Philabundance is providing 57,000 LunchBoxes this summer, nearly triple what we distributed last year.


There’s a lesson in Philabundance’s story, and in that of PAL’s cheerleaders: we reach new heights when we work together. As for our role, we’re happy to help kids have happy, healthy, hunger-free summers.


“Kids shouldn’t have to worry about, ‘What am I going to eat?’” Thomas says. “Philabundance fills a gap.”

Donate here to support our work to fill the summer meal gap and fight hunger 365 days a year.



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