Thousands of children in the greater New Orleans region are now enrolled in summer camps. Some are getting vital meals along with their planned activities.
Huyen Tran is working at the VIET Community Center while her children attend the summer camp that’s under way.
She says the breakfast and lunch they get while attending the seven-and-a-half-hour program during the week is a great help financially.
“It could shorten your budget tremendously," she says. "I have four kids. They’re constantly eating. Yeah, it’s heaven.”
Cyndi Nguyen is the VIET program executive director. She says there are 526 children enrolled in her summer program.
She says for the past three years, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana has stepped in to make sure the children have meals.
“Let me tell you, it’s been a relief for me as director of camp because I don’t have to worry every day, 'How am I going to feed these kids?'”
Nguyen says one little boy demonstrates every morning how important the program has become.
“In the morning, every morning, he eats five plates, so that tells me he may not be getting dinner the night before.”
Second Harvest President Natalie Jayroe says the group works directly with community organizations to make sure the food goes to the right places.
“We have the capacity to keep the administrative paperwork done," Jayroe says. "That frees up sites like this one to do their job so well, which is to reach out to these children, give them enriching activities and allow us to bring a nourishing meal.”
Nguyen says she decided to take steps in case the food program is somehow disrupted in the future, so she planted 35 fruit trees at the center.
“I think five years from now we’ll have enough supplies that we can service the number of kids that come to this camp," she says.
Second Harvest estimates that it will serve 200,000 meals to children this summer.