The check was for $6,226.63.
The money was raised by Altrusa of Gig Harbor at the organization’s Empty Bowls event in February with the purpose of providing summer lunches to children who might go hungry otherwise.
The beneficiaries were nearly 900 school-age children who qualify for free and reduced price lunches throughout the school year, but not during the summer, because in Gig Harbor there is no summer lunch program to bridge the gap.
The project started about 12 years ago, when Altrusa of Gig Harbor committed to equipping a commercial-grade community kitchen at the soon-to-be-built Boys & Girls Club. The $100,000 pledge translated into ten years of work on a Holiday Tour of Homes to raise the money. But it paid off. The kitchen’s “mortgage” was burned in October of 2015.
With the pledge completed, Altrusa moved on to the next phase: determining how to use that kitchen to address hunger for our community’s children. Research found that a full 24 percent of Gig Harbor’s children who receive free or reduced price lunches throughout the school year have no resource for lunches during the summer if their families are unable to afford the food.
At its September program meeting, Altrusa President Jan Hohman presented the check to Jennifer Davide, program director for Cheney Branch, Gig Harbor Boys & Girls Club and Carrie Prudente-Holden, chief operating officer for the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound.
“Altrusa was thrilled to provide 889 children with 4,079 lunches this summer,” Hohman said in a release. “They are kids who qualified for free/reduced lunch through the Cheney Boys & Girls Club. Our goal for the future is to work with the B&G Club and other organizations in Gig Harbor to make sure every child has access to lunches during summer break.”
Davide explained how Altrusa’s support for the lunch program had impacted one little girl in the first week of last summer’s program.
She had stood aside when lunch was served on her first day, and finally asked how much lunch cost. When told it would cost her nothing, she delightedly jumped into line for the food, and the next day brought siblings and cousins to the program.