Summer program offers free meals, camp activities for kids

Rodeph Shalom wants to spread the word — and generosity

Hadas Kuznits
June 27, 2018 - 7:45 pm
Breaking Bread on Broad

Hadas Kuznits | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A free summer camp and food program is providing two free meals daily for children who show up at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, but to the surprise of those involved, many in need aren't taking advantage of the opportunity.

The program, Breaking Bread on Broad, offers free breakfast and lunch for kids, ages 5 through 18, who show up at the synagogue, located at Broad and Mt. Vernon streets weekdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., which also offers free activities in between the meals.

For some reason, program coordinator Julian Ovalle said in the first week nobody showed up.

"It was very discouraging," he said. "We walked with my counselors through the neighborhood for two hours giving pamphlets and pamphlets and pamphlets. We went into the parks and gave pamphlets to people."

He said it's important they get the word out about this free program.

"They say a lot of kids during the summer are hungry and we are providing the food," he noted.

A handful of kids showed up during the second week, but Ovalle wants hundreds of kids to take advantage of the opportunity, if possible.

"The Catholic church provides this synagogue with meals," he explained. "My job as the coordinator is to call them every day to tell them how many kids we have, and they will bring the meals for us."

Ovalle said the program provides structure for the children when they're on summer break from school. 

Kids like 5-year-old Jazelle and 11-year-old Amya came to the synagogue the second week, where they also played football and card games, painted pictures, and made new friends.

Hezekiah "Hez" Grimmage Jr., who volunteers with the program as a camp counselor, said he enjoys connecting with the kids.

He believes if it wasn't for this program and others like it, some of these kids would have nothing to eat.

"They're always coming to me, 'Hez, Hez,' " he said, "always trying to play games with me or get my attention or whatever the case is. It's pretty fun."