For kids in Quakertown, St. Luke’s University Health Network has launched a new Summer Meals Program—running from June 17 to Aug. 30—to make sure no child goes without a nutritious lunch during the summer months.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (with the exception of Independence Day), all children and teens ages 18 and younger can visit St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus for a free healthy meal.
The new program is part of the Network’s focus on addressing the social determinants of health—economic and social conditions that impact health risks and outcomes in the community. At the conclusion of its 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), St. Luke’s identified improving access to care and reducing health disparities as one of its top priorities. Food security was consistently cited as a barrier to care and well-being across network communities.
During the 2017-18 school year, more than half of Quakertown Elementary School children were eligible to receive free or reduced-cost lunches. These children benefit from meals at school that they may otherwise go without. Over the summer, these meals are no longer accessible.
“Children can’t succeed in school or at home without receiving proper meals,” says Dr. Kathy Paulik Ramson, RN, CCRN, St. Luke’s Network Director of Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Initiatives. “When school lets out and the meals they need are no longer available, they are at immediate risk of going hungry. This program is an example of community organizations coming together and doing their part to improve the health and well-being of our most food-insecure children.”
In coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the United States Department of Agriculture, St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus and Metz Culinary assemble lunches to be distributed by community health staff and volunteers. Penn Community Bank also made a generous gift to support program enhancements.
Earlier this month, Penn Community Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Jeane M. Vidoni and Chief Relationship Officer Todd R. Hurley presented a check for $15,162 at St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus, where the program is taking place.
“This is a cause that is near and dear to us at Penn Community,” said Hurley. “We are proud to be able to support our community’s children in this meaningful way. When our employees learned about the program and Penn Community’s initial $10,000 contribution, many of them chose to make their own personal gifts to offer even more support—it was truly a team effort.”
The new program supplements the work St. Luke’s is doing to improve access to care for at-risk children, in partnership with local school districts. As part of the Healthy Kids, Bright Futures initiative, underinsured children can take advantage of medical and dental services through the network’s fleet of mobile vans, and benefit from educational programs and healthy living resources.
As part of the Summer Meals Program at St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus fresh produce from local farms is also available on Wednesdays. Special meal options are provided for children with food allergies or intolerances.