Last summer, Coach Darius Robinson spent a lot of time at the grocery store, buying hundreds of slices of bread and dozens of jars of peanut butter and jelly, enough to feed an entire football team.
Robinson is the athletic director at Southern High School in Durham, North Carolina. He’s also the head coach of the football team, a team of fifty high school boys from one of Durham’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Most of his players count on the free breakfast and lunch they receive during the school year, but in the summer those meals disappear. “There are some real financial challenges for the families here,” said Robinson. “A lot of kids don’t have the resources to have a meal every day.”
Robinson tried to alleviate a little of that unpredictability by making sure every summer practice also included a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Think about it, it’s the summertime, most of these kids get a breakfast and lunch here at Southern during the school year, and many times that’s the only meal they eat all day,” he said. “When they aren’t in school, they don’t get that.”
But it’s expensive to feed a team of fifty football players out of your own pocket. Fortunately, this summer our partners at the community organization ItsDoable approached the coach about opening a free summer meals site at his school. Now, any kid can eat a free breakfast and lunch.
“Having this program here is huge. Every morning, I sent my kids up to grab breakfast, they get replenished and get that protein they need in their bodies,” he said. “It’s been a huge asset.”
And those meals are reaching more than just those fifty football players. They’re also supporting the cross-country, football, soccer, cheerleading, and basketball teams that practice at Southern High School during the summer; they’re feeding the kids taking summer school classes; and even reaching the children in the nearby low-income housing less than a mile from the school.