We all know Red Lodge is an especially awesome place but have you ever wondered why? Here is one of many reasons:

In the first week of April a bunch of community organizations received a letter from No Kid Hungry Montana saying that Red Lodge doesn’t have an program to provide food for kids in the summer and that kids are going hungry right in our great little town. So a group of 18 representatives from a slew of different groups came together to determine if, in fact, that was really no program in place and it turns out there wasn’t.  Fast forward exactly two months from that meeting and the first Lunch in the Sun meal served 25 kids at Lions Park. Talk about moving ideas to action!

The program, administered by the Office of Public Instruction and the USDA, trains and reimburses communities that host such programs. Most Summer Food Programs are run by a single organization which is what makes OUR program so great: we were a collaborative community effort. The key players of Lunch in the Sun:

-Calvary Episcopal Church was the sponsoring agency (they signed on the dotted line and handled all that fun administrative stuff);

-The Boys and Girls Club shared their chef, Marsha Sullivan, 3 days a week and provided storage space;

-The IGA and Carbon County Creamery were our local vendors;

-The Food Partnership Council planned meals;

-The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation for provided a program manager, volunteer coordinator, and marketing/communications; and

-The 74 community members who volunteered to serve meals!

So how’d the program do? Amazing –74 awesome community members volunteered 113 hours in 20 days to serve 515 free lunches to local kids! Maybe it was the need or maybe it was the Otter Pops, but either way It is safe to say that this pilot program was a huge success.

If you (or your organization) didn’t get involved this year, don’t worry the program will be back next year. Contact Kristen at hollum@mtcompact.org to see how you can help next summer.