Summer Meals: More Than Just a Lunch

The beginning of June is an exciting time, especially for kids. The arrival of June means they are one step closer to summer break; a time of freedom, relaxation, and warm summer days. But with school being out of session, the summer also becomes a critical time for children’s health and well-being. For many students, the meals being provided at their schools are the healthiest meal they will be eating all day. As a participant provider in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), we here at Gourmet Gorilla understand the importance that school lunch plays on an overall healthy lifestyle. The NSLP serves approximately 30.4 million lunches daily to children in more than 100,00 schools across the nation. The unfortunate reality is that for many of those kids, the end of the school year can also mean the end of lunch. In Illinois alone, 1,395,970 people are struggling with hunger - and of them 453,260 are children.(Feeding America). Summer Feeding Programs help bridge the food insecurity gap in the summer months when school lunch is not an option.

The United State’s Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides kids and teens in low-income areas free meals when school is out. We partner with the largest distributor of summer meals in Chicago: The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD). The Greater Chicago Food Depository is Chicago’s food bank. They provide food for the hungry while striving to end hunger in our community. Gourmet Gorilla is proud to make and distribute hundreds of meals each day throughout the year to schools, community centers, and libraries across Chicagoland who are part of the Greater Chicago Food Depository feeding program.

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A snapshot of our summer meals

While we may distribute hundreds of meals during the school year, this number reaches into the tens of thousands during the summer, with the peak being 15,000 meals going out the doors of Gourmet Gorilla each day to over 200 sites. These meals are planned and created using the same standards that we follow throughout the school year: at least 70% of our ingredients are organic, we use only local and hormone free meats, and the majority of our ingredients are made from scratch right in our commercial kitchen. We believe the access to healthy, clean, and delicious food is a human right, and this goal does not stop when school is out.

Each day in the summer, Gourmet Gorilla sends out tens of thousands of meals. We use refrigerated trucks to keep the meals cool, and compostable packaging to protect the environment and reduce plastic use.

Each day in the summer, Gourmet Gorilla sends out tens of thousands of meals. We use refrigerated trucks to keep the meals cool, and compostable packaging to protect the environment and reduce plastic use.

With such a large spike in total meals, this means a lot of changes here at Gourmet Gorilla.

Our cook team hard at work

Our cook team hard at work

During the summer, our team works hard to make sure that every kid who needs one is getting local, delicious made from meals each day this summer. From our kitchen team that prepares and packages the meals, to our fleet of drivers who work tirelessly each day to ensure the meals are getting out the door, summertime is a fast-paced time of year here at Gourmet Gorilla! From our team to yours, we hope you have a happy, healthy, and safe summer! Here’s to the new season!

Think your community center needs summer meals? Visit the Greater Chicago Food Depository to apply for the summer meals program! Click here to view their website: https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/summer-meal-program-application/