Volunteers wearing blue latex gloves diligently sorted shelf-stable food into zip-lock bags decorated with characters from “Toy Story” last Thursday at the Hole Food Rescue headquarters.
The snacks are part of a new collaboration between Hole Food Rescue and One22 to provide free, nutritious lunches to One22’s summer camp scholarship recipients. This year the summer camp scholarship aims to pay for 110 children in Jackson to spend four weeks at camp.
Carey Stanley, program director for One22, said that last year staff noticed that some scholarship students showed up without enough food to make it through the day, even as little as a single bag of chips for an entire day of hiking in Grand Teton National Park. They made the decision to do something about it.
“Everybody’s ego hats are off,” Stanley said. “It’s all about just taking care of kids in the community and making sure everybody has an opportunity in the summer.”
But packing lunch for 110 kids every day for 20 days across 12 camps could not come together without some additional manpower. That’s where the volunteers come in.
On Thursday the volunteers were from Hole Food Rescue and One22 or were parents of the scholarship recipients.
Liliana Andraca showed up to volunteer because her son is going to be a One22 scholarship recipient this summer.
“I feel excited,” she said. “I want to help. They do so much, and I wanted to get involved.”
Hannah Cooley, director of programs and partnerships at Hole Food Rescue, said that when One22 approached the nonprofit about the project, staffers knew they would have to enlist more volunteers to make it happen, and groups from the community have already committed to weekly shifts throughout the summer.
“This is a very new project for us,” Cooley said. “And we’re really excited about it because it’s so different and so unique and, and it’s just been so refreshing to see how the communities come together to make this happen.”
Cooley explained that in every lunch they are trying to balance kid-friendly and nutritious food. Each lunch will ideally include a sandwich, fresh produce, a granola bar and a snack. The food comes primarily from rescued donations, but Hole Food Rescue has also started to dehydrate bananas and apples for the days when it might not receive enough fresh fruit donations.
Since nonprofit staffers started planning the lunches, Cooley said, they have been putting aside shelf-stable items like whole-wheat crackers and granola bars and storing them in the attic — a habit the Hole Food Rescue volunteers call “squirreling.”
“It’s a big challenge for us,” Cooley said. “And so we want to be prepared, while simultaneously not taking away from any of those other organizations that we’re currently serving.”
During the summer, a Hole Food Rescue intern will deliver the lunches that are packed each morning to the camps between 8 and 9 on an electric bike Hole Food Rescue received a grant to fund.
“Every year this program gets bigger and better,” Stanley said. “And making sure every kid that’s actually there is fully able to participate because they’re well fed and well nourished is awesome.”