By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final installment of a series about local hunger heroes, people in our region who have taken action to help combat hunger in our community by partnering with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee in a variety of ways.
Christy Lundy still remembers the conversation she overheard last summer outside her apartment complex.
There was a young girl around 4 years old, waiting patiently for the Lunch Express bus from Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee to bring her some food. She asked her brother when the bus was coming, and he told her the bus doesn’t come on Saturday. So she said maybe they could get some lunch at church, but he told her church was on Sunday, not Saturday. Lundy can still hear the girl’s next question to her brother.
“You mean we don’t get to eat today?” Lundy recalled the girl asking. “That broke my heart, but that’s the reality that we live in. It’s so sad, but you know that lunch bus, there’s a lot of kids that depend on it.”
For many children in our region, the freedom of a summer outside of school is all-too-often overshadowed by the insecurity of not knowing where their next meal is coming from. During the school year, many students from low-income homes are guaranteed two meals each day at school. But once summer rolls around, all bets are off.
Lundy said the Summer Food Service Program through Second Harvest is a tremendous blessing for her family. Lundy works full time, but with two daughters, her paychecks are stretched thin once summer rolls around and her girls eat three meals a day at home.
“Being a single mom with a 13-year-old and a 7-year-old, the first thing you think about is, ‘Oh no. That’s a lot of extra groceries,’ ” Lundy said. “That’s a huge stress to me, so it’s a huge help when we know that we’re going to have the lunch bus.”
When the bus rolls into Lundy’s apartment complex five days each week during the summer, the children are able to pick out their food and take it to a shady spot with picnic tables. On Fridays, they often receive boxes with extra food to help them get through the weekend.
Lundy often helps the children open up their food and talks to them about what is going on in their lives. She also does what she can to help them understand the lunch bus is able to deliver food because of the kindness of those who support Second Harvest.
When Lundy gets a chance to talk to potential donors – as she did at a recent Derby Day event benefitting Second Harvest – she makes sure folks know how much children and families depend on the services provided by Second Harvest.
“It’s not an embarrassment for me and my family at all because I am a hard worker,” Lundy said. “I know even when you’re working, you still struggle, and I’m still so thankful for those meals, the extra meals that come from the lunch bus.”
For more information on Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee, visit www.netfoodbank.org.