Blog from Billings: Summer Meals in Billings

By: Sade Johnson

As summer approaches, the preparation for the summer meals program has begun. This year Billings Public Schools will have fifteen sites including four mobile sites to help alleviate childhood hunger during the summer months.  Looking at past stats of program, I learned that when there are activities going on at the parks, the participation in the summer meals program is high. I began working to find volunteers to help lead activities in six parks (North, Crow-Arrowhead, Gorham, Pioneer Park, Castle Rock, Orchard Elementary). I began reaching out to various clubs such as the Zonta and Kwanis Clubs. They showed some interest in the program.  With the help of Sodexo intern, Shelby, I began calling all the churches in Billings' Community. These calls lead to a few interested individuals, but no solid volunteer connections. Finally, when we contacted Montana State University- Billings, I was able to sign up one volunteer through their Foreign Program. She signed up for three days a week at Pioneer Park. Currently, I am working on reaching out to both major hospitals, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent, for volunteers. Additionally, the NCCC AmeriCorps team has handed out and posted numerous volunteer flyers and reached out to several businesses in the community.  The process hasn't been easy, but I am continuing to find different avenues to finally build a volunteer network for many summers to come.