Once a week, Ana Bertrand takes her kids to the parking lot at the Fairways Apartments in Derry — for lunch.
Bertrand’s children enjoy free hot dogs and hamburgers, courtesy of the Salvation Army’s free lunch program.
The Salvation Army canteen truck pulls up to the Fairways every Tuesday at noon and serve food to children who come to the truck. On Thursday, the truck heads to Hood Park at noon.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Bertrand said. “The kids love the truck.”
Bertrand’s children are among the 46,639 in New Hampshire who qualified for the free or reduced lunch program in New Hampshire last year. While her kids are taken care of during the school year, the summer becomes a challenge.
Feeding those children is something a pair of organizations focus on during the summer. While the Salvation Army comes to The Fairways once a week for lunch, Southern New Hampshire Services comes to the same spot five days a week during the summer around dinner time.
“We do this from the first day that school gets out to the last day before school starts,” said Kathleen Devlin, Community Health and Nutrition Services Director with Southern New Hampshire Services. “It’s a continuation of the program which is held in the schools.”
About 40 brown-bag suppers are prepared by the staff and handed out to the children every night in three different locations around town. They stop at the Fairways around 4:15 p.m., then go to Franklin Village on Faraway Court at 5:15 p.m. before finishing at Hood Park at 6 p.m.
“There is a need for youths to have access to this during the summer,” Devlin said. “It’s geared toward making sure kids don’t go back to school in the fall at nutritional risk.”
Each brown bag contains milk, fruit, a vegetable and a sandwich. The program also cover Seabrook, Nashua and Manchester.