America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia continues to use innovation and creativity to expand its childhood hunger initiative. With more that 2,900 children in Bulloch County, a staggering majority of 64% of children younger than the age of 18 years, qualifying for free or reduced-price school lunches, childhood hunger is an issue that has reached drastic proportions in this area. Compared to state and national rates of children the same age living below the poverty level, 16% respectively, nearly double or 33% of Bulloch County children under the ago of 18 live below the poverty level placing them at risk for hunger. Second Harvest has responded to childhood hunger and the critical need for relief in Bulloch County with the Lunch Box program.
The Lunch Box program hit the road this past summer, cooaborating with Cone Homes, Joseph's Home for Boys, Safe Haven, Whitesville Community Center, and the Statesboro Housing Authority. The program provided hot lunches for 500 children in need in the Statesboro area. Now, the food bank is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County for the Lunch Box program todeliver hot, evening meals to 200 eligible children each day.
Charity Funds Entertainment Project, Bi-Lo Charities and local churches have joined the Lunch Box effort by sponsoring an ice cream truck that has been converted to serve hot meals in child-friendly manner. Meals for the program are prepared at Second Harvest's Community Kitchen and kept warm during transport to Bulloch County in the specially outfitted Lunch Box truck.
Lunch Box is the newest pilot program of America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, which if successful, will be yet another national model for relieving childhood hunger. In 1989, Second Harvest initated the Kids Cafe program, providing income-eligible school-aged children a hot, nutritious evening meal in a safe, nurturing environment. With collaboration and support from the community, Second Harvest anticipates the Lunch Box program to be one more resourceful initiative in the fight against childhood hunger.