Lunchbox 21, a program feeding needy Kannapolis children for 21 days this summer, kicked off June 26 and will continue until Aug. 14. Three days a week, a team of volunteers lead by Adriana Bain of Concord prepare 85 to 90 lunches to deliver to children and seniors.
The program started when Bain, 38 and a mother of three, called Terri Stancil, founder of Refuge of Hope Soup Kitchen in Kannapolis, to ask for opportunities for her and her children to serve the community during the summer. Stancil had opened the soup kitchen for an individual to use for a similar program this past summer. While Stancil wanted to offer a lunch program for children again this year, she was unable to leave the facilities to deliver lunches.
Though children who benefit from programs like free school lunch during the school year may still qualify for free meals, they have to be able to get to them, said Bain.
Bain quickly agreed to lead a lunch program for summer 2015. She named it Lunchbox 21 because the program would provide lunches on 21 days throughout the season.
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Bain created an online sign-up for volunteers and sought volunteers. It was not long before each date was filled with the needed laborers.
“I was so excited and knew in my heart that I could put the word out about this opportunity to serve this community and trusted that people would respond,” she said.
Volunteers often bring their own children to help make the lunches. Delivering the lunches is also an opportunity for volunteers and their children to interact with the community they are serving.
“This program gives children in the neighborhood something to look forward to and allows both the children serving in the program and the ones being served to connect. Many days we take balls, sidewalk chalk, etc., and try to connect with the children. We play duck duck goose and a few of our volunteers have played football with all the children.”
Bain said her family has lived in the Cabarrus area for eight generations, having settled in the area in the 1850s. When Bain told a family member about the Lunchbox 21 program, she was surprised to learn that some of her ancestors ran a grocery store that provided free food to those in need in the same area that the Lunchbox 21 program serves.
“When my aunt told me about my great-grandfather’s grocery story right beside where I am currently working, I was moved and excited to know such information,” said Bain. “Many times we go through life not knowing who has gone before us and how they were living out their purpose. It was like stepping back and seeing the big picture and seeing that my role with Lunchbox 21 played a part in helping to feed this community.
“The depth of this experience is in the present day-to-day opportunities to serve and see the smiling faces of the volunteers and the people in the community.”
Marjorie Dana is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on volunteering or donating to the Lunchbox 21 program, email Adriana Bain at email@example.com.