Meet the Unsung Heroes Feeding Kids in the Summer

Kids across America can get free meals in the summer

Kids who rely on school meals struggle to get enough to eat during the summer months. That's why feeding hungry kids in the summer takes heroic efforts to reach the children most in need.

Whether they spend their workday in a church, a hospital, or a food truck, that’s the work of thousands of people who go above and beyond every day. That's why No Kid Hungry has named five summer meals heroes who exemplify a commitment to feeding kids and tenacity that make us proud. 

  • Betty Crocker, Food Nutrition Director at Redlands Unified School District (Redlands, Calif.): Before Betty came to the district two years ago, Redlands didn’t have a summer meals program. She quickly developed partnerships with the city and local community centers, launching the program in 2017. Thanks to Betty’s creative marketing and commitment to overcome challenges, the program reached a lot more hungry kids this summer. “She only cares about one thing, and that’s serving the kiddos,” says Daisy Munguia, a senior program director for No Kid Hungry California.  
  • Annette Woods Mitchell, Commissioner, Deerfield Beach Housing Authority (Deerfield Beach, Fla.): 
In the three years that Annette has been a site administrator for the Summer BreakSpot Program, she’s gone above and beyond to ensure the kids she serves receive nutritious meals and enrichment activities, coordinating free field trips and tutoring to complement the summer meals program. “She is constantly thinking of new ways to get children engaged and to learn along the way,” said Maria Trinidad Miguel, a No Kid Hungry youth volunteer who works with Florida Impact. “She puts the needs of her community before her own.”  

  • Elaine Jones, RD, LDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Atrium Health’s Carolinas HealthCare System University (Charlotte, N.C.): A driving force in pushing for community health initiatives, Elaine was an early champion when CHS University first piloted serving summer meals in the hospital cafeteria in 2017. This year the hospital substantially expanded the Kids Eat Free program. “Hunger pains are real and far too numerous,” Jones said. “We all have the ability, opportunity and obligation to end hunger by making food available to our youth.”  
  • José Lebron, NYC Summer Meals staff (New York): For the past four summers, José has worked seven days a week to feed as many kids as possible at his summer meals truck, delivering free meals at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Manhattan. He goes out of his way to develop relationships with camps and programs in the surrounding areas and to really get to know the kids and parents he serves each day. “Countless times I've seen him convince wary families or shy kids to get their lunch with his earnest efforts,” said David Stillman with Hunger Free America, who nominated José for this award. “Whenever a kid or family passes near the site, he bellows, ‘Free Meals! Free meals for the kids! We've got sandwiches, carrots, apples!’ to get their attention.”  
  • Sarah Brown, pastor at Church at Hampton Roads (Chesapeake, Va.): Sarah oversees the No Kid Hungry summer lunch program at Church at Hampton Roads, where she is a co-pastor with her husband Joel. She is committed to making sure kids in Chesapeake have access to a healthy lunch and exciting activities to stimulate their brains and keep them active. Sarah is described as a ‘beacon of hope’ for the kids in the community she serves. “She greets them with smiles and talks to them about their day and future plans,” says Jenny Fertig with Healthy Chesapeake. “She has a huge heart for the youth and her love and compassion for them cannot be ignored.”  

Reaching kids during the summer months can be tough, but we are so inspired by the work that’s happening in communities all across the country. Thanks to everyday heroes like these, many more kids will return to school this fall well-nourished and ready to learn.

Please join us in celebrating this year’s No Kid Hungry summer meals heroes, and the everyday heroes like these who make summer meals possible for kids in your community!