Food 4 Kids Returns For 12th Summer

by Ryan Bray
Volunteers help prepare meals for the summer Food 4 Kids program at Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans.  FILE PHOTO Volunteers help prepare meals for the summer Food 4 Kids program at Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS – At the Church of the Holy Spirit on Monday, staff and volunteers were busy prepping and packaging meals for delivery to youth summer programs across the Lower and Outer Cape.

Last week marked the start of the 12th summer for the local Food 4 Kids program, which provides meals to children in programs from Harwich to Provincetown as part of the state’s Summer EATS program. For Jenn Gale, who was hired in February as the program’s new executive director, seeing the program’s core of staffers and volunteers get to work in service to the community made for a perfect start to the season.

“It was really good,” she said of the first day of the program, which runs Monday to Friday through Aug. 30. “We have a full team this year. In past years it's been difficult to get enough staff support, and we’ve been limited by that in terms of our ability to expand our services. But I was able to hire a big enough team that we’ll be able to do that this year.”

Staff anticipate serving meals for more than 600 children this summer across all locations. In addition to providing and serving meals for 16 youth programs, Food 4 Kids is also offering two grab-and-go lunch locations for the first time this summer. Families can pick up meals for kids both at the Church of the Holy Spirit and the First Parish Brewster Unitarian Universalist Church on Main Street.

Gale said she hopes the additions will help the program expand its reach to better serve members of the community that have been underserved in past years.

“I don’t think we are reaching our families with younger kids,” she said. “Because school age kids are attending the programming, but little kids, there are not a lot of options for little ones that are not expensive.”

The program is also serving hot meals to children for the first time this summer, Gale said. Also new this summer, staff and volunteers are preparing meals for two new community fridges in Harwich and Eastham. Food and meals provided through the fridges are available to all residents in need, regardless of age, Gale said.

Rev. Patrick Ward of the Church of the Holy Spirit said that the growth of the program and the increased demand for its services was the impetus behind hiring someone part time to run the program as a paid position.

“Sometimes churches run ministries and we discover the need is so profound that we need a person, a paid staff member, where it migrates into their hands,” he said. “It’s more than a volunteer effort, we discovered.”

Gale, who moved to Brewster with her son in 2017, has worked with Food 4 Kids as a volunteer in the past. After 25 years spent working in corporate America, she was approached by Ward about assuming the executive director job.

While she said she was planning the next phase of her career, Gale said the opportunity to start a new professional chapter came sooner than expected. Nevertheless, she seized the chance to step into her new role, one she said also allows her to spend more time with her son.

“I think sometimes you’ve got to trust your instincts, and I really did it this time,” she said. “It just felt right.”

The local Food 4 Kids program is running this summer with a crew of seven staffers as well as 130 volunteers. But Gale said that more volunteers are still needed, especially on Fridays.

Volunteers help in a variety of ways, including with meal prep and deliveries. But Gale said the program is willing to accommodate anyone who is willing to help out.

“If there’s other ways that they want to volunteer and they don’t see an opportunity to, then they should just email us at,” she said.

For more information about Food 4 Kids distribution locations or how to volunteer, visit

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