Many of you have probably heard of the organization Small Miracles here in the Wenatchee Valley. Two summers ago, I signed up to volunteer with them to serve lunches to kids during the summer who most likely didn’t have access to food during the day at home. A lot of these kids are left home with older and younger siblings and the food options are either limited or non-existent. Small Miracles aims to fill that gap. The first summer I volunteered I was surprised by how many kids showed up right before noon to line up for a sack lunch and milk. I wasn’t able to volunteer last summer (I had a very young, needy baby at the time) but this summer, my 10-year old daughter and I are back in it and loving it.
Small Miracles operates under the Washington State Department of Agriculture and managed by the State of Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction. As far as protocol, there’s a lot the organization has to document and provide paperwork for. Other than the obvious required things, like having a sanitization area for the kids to wash their hands before taking a lunch, they have to mark how many individuals take a lunch, how many lunches and milks in the cooler there are to start and how many extra lunches were needed if more children than expected showed up. In which case, there are runners to pick up and deliver more lunches to all the sites as needed. The lunches are all kept cool and each bag comes with a carton of milk. The pick up locations are Pioneer Middle School and Foothills Middle School, and between the two they currently service 21 sites (which are all local schools and parks in our neighborhoods).
The number of children on free or reduced lunches during the school year doubled between 2016 and 2017. Between Cashmere, Wenatchee and Eastmont, there were more than 15,000 students on free or reduced lunches as of October 2017. Between those 3 school districts there are roughly 700 students who are considered homeless. And that trend is continuing. You can find this information and sources on their website. So during school, these students are covered as far as lunch goes. But what happens in the summer when that security goes away? That’s what Small Miracles is for, and that’s what motivated Linda Belton to get the program going in the first place.
(You can read about the history and background of the Summer Lunch Program to better understand where this idea came from.)
So, how many lunches has Small Miracles provided to children since 2012? More than 22,000, and that doesn’t include the predicted number for 2018 (10,000+). These lunches are also healthy. In order for the State of Washington to support the organization with partial reimbursement, the lunches are required to include a meat or meat substitute, a type of grain, fruit, vegetable and milk. Subsidies from the state are a huge help, but it’s because of community donations that really make a difference.
By volunteering, you are making a donation. Each week, I receive the email updates on which sites desperately need help. If you need a little inspiration, you can check out this video from volunteers on why they donate their time.
It not only feels good to do good, it feels even better knowing that these children have a free healthy option for lunch during the summer months. And there’s no strings attached, no sign-in, no student ID required. If you show up and you want lunch, it’s yours. And if you decide to volunteer, take your kids with you! It’s a great way to show them the example that volunteering should be a part of life, a duty to humanity, and that not everyone experiences life in the same way.
To donate, sponsor or volunteer, click here.