By Atlas Novack
Sloppy Joes, turkey sandwiches, and salads that can barely be called such, were once staple lunch items for kids in the U.S.. While the junk-food inclusion on a daily basis may be long gone, the importance of lunch, is not. School lunches feed kids over the country nine months out of the year, but what about the other three?
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica has a program in effect that not only allows kids a place to hang out and play all day, but also provides them with free meals. The Boys & Girls Clubs provide not only lunch, but breakfast as well. The program is made possible thanks to the Westside Food Bank, and Sodexo, both who donate food to the organization. The cooperation allows the clubs to keep admission prices low ($20 annually) while providing quality food with a camp experience for the kids. When questioned about the food, two girls told The Mirror, “They’re tasty! Some days they’re healthy, sometimes they give us fun stuff like tacos. We like them though.” Although the lines stretch long during lunchtime, service is quick, with kids having a sandwich in their hand within two minutes of getting in line.
The clubs started offering dinner as well during the school terms a few years ago. “We discovered that kids were hungry,” said Garron Campbell, Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica main branch director. “During the school year they’d get breakfast and lunch at school before coming here after, and they’d get snacks from us,” he said.
Sometimes skipping school lunches to eat at the clubs, Campbell explained that subsequent funding cuts lead to the decision to start a dinner program with the Westside Food Bank. During summer Sodexo helps bridge the gap, and, alongside private donations, the clubs are able to provide kids with the fuel they need to play, learn, and grow. If you would like to learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, you can visit their website at smbgc.com.