During summer, children in the United States experience higher rates of food insecurity because they are not in school receiving free and reduced meals. The New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger recognized that over 200,000 children in the state were hungry over summer months. In response, it created the Intergenerational Summer Food Program. The program links children to free breakfast and lunch at community centers, churches, schools, parks, Boys & Girls Clubs and senior centers across the state. In addition, seniors are recruited to pack and distribute weekend food bags every Friday over summer so that children are provided nutritious food. The interaction of seniors, and many times teenage volunteers, packing the bags and then handing them to each child is a fun activity that brought all volunteers back week after week. Seniors also plant, tend and harvest community gardens at many of the summer food sites. This is a particularly rewarding activity to the senior volunteers because many children have never seen how a tomato or other vegetable grows. At several sites, seniors have become so involved with the children that they also volunteer to help with other activities. These include art, dance, cooking, nutrition education, jewelry and drum making - all demonstrating the incredible skill sets of the senior volunteers.
For more stories about hunger and nutrition across the generations, download Hunger and Nutrition in America: What's at Stake for Children, Families and Older Adults