MUST Continues Summer Lunches

With less than half of the summer left, MUST Ministries is committed to feed children in need through its summer lunch program, despite a financial setback. While lunches are being served it has come with several extra costs to the program.

Dr. Ike Reighard, president and CEO of MUST told the Jonquil City Kiwanis Club that it still needs help from the community to feed its most at-risk youth over the summer, after state and county health officials told the nonprofit it can no longer accept homemade sandwiches for sack lunches.

MUST launched as SOS, “Save Our Sandwiches” just a week before the school holiday began to raise more than $225,000 to purchase sandwiches for the 10 weeks.

As of the end of June, the agency still needs some $50,000 worth of sandwich funding if they had to buy all the sandwiches. Kay Cagle, MUST spokeswoman said, “We are determined to feed the children. They have nowhere else to turn.”

At central locations such as Tillman House in Smyrna, volunteers work to pack the lunches into bags and other volunteers deliver them daily to drop-off locations.

She said that MUST is working with some certified kitchens to create sandwiches in order to reduce the cost.

“We have ordered 180,000 sandwiches thus far, but have money to order more. We also have had to purchase “set ups” – juice boxes, sweet and salty snacks, granola bars, fruit cups, etc. because when volunteers stopped making sandwiches, they stopped doing the whole lunch. We also had to rent refrigerated storage for all of the purchased sandwiches! It’s been a lot of juggling to change the way we’ve done Summer Lunch for 23 years prior,” she said.

Well over 2.5 million lunches have been served since the program began with just 25 lunches a day. Last summer, MUST provided 273,815 meals, thanks to hundreds of volunteers working in the program and making lunches.

One problem that MST officials noted is that when volunteers quit making the sandwiches they quit donating everything else that went into the lunch.

“We appreciate financial donations,” Cagle said. “We are still looking for more snack items: applesauce cups, granola bars, pretzels, chips, individually wrapped snacks.”