We raise awareness about hunger, connect children, families, and adults to nutrition programs, and advocate for systemic change to end hunger before it begins.
On a wooden bench outside the Coquille Community Building, nearly 15 minutes early, two elementary school kids and their great-grandmother waited. Right on time, the little refrigerated truck rolled up to deliver peanut butter sandwiches, fruit and milk. A few more kids arrived, got their food and joined their friends, settling into a summer life without school and, sometimes, without meals.The summer meal program in southwestern Oregon-including Coquille and Myrtle Point-is one of more than 350 meal sites across the state that provides more than two million meals to kids in the summer. Coquille and Myrtle Point serve about 200 kids a day.If kids live nearby and are old enough, they walk to get food on their own. If they're too young, parents like Darlene Thomas join them. Thomas, 69, a widow, is raising her great-grandchildren, eight and nine. On a fixed income, she said, a meal for kids helps, especially if a meal is aligned with activities-like reading-that kids can do for free."Food is meant for everybody," she said, "it shouldn't have a dollar amount on it if you're hungry."Like many small towns, the people who live and work there know who's struggling and why. Neighbors reach out to help and make sure that kids who need to eat are fed. They deliver food where kids go-the pool in Coquille, the skate park in Myrtle Point.Summer absolutely goes better for everyone-kids and the communities where they live-when meals are a certainty. That's why Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon works with communities across the state to connect kids and families to food all year. PHFO's Summer Food Support Fund provided resources and assistance to Coquille School District in 2016.