Giving Kids Lunch – Twigs Backpack program

Every week day of summer break from school, volunteers from TWIGS head to their designated distribution site — a city lot, a park, a fire department or a YMCA — to serve food from iced coolers.

On any given day, they will serve anywhere from 20 to 50 plus kids per site.

Is this a fundraiser for a local school? Nope.

The lunches given out by TWIGS go to children who may otherwise go without food during the summer months.

TWIGS is not your typical children’s feeding program.

In cooperation with Gloria Harrison, the food service director for Granite City School District #9, the Granite City mayor, and the local police department, TWIGS Founder Lisa Guilliams, was able to narrow down neighborhoods that would be most accessible for the children of the Granite City, IL community. With as many as 15 carefully pinpointed sites, TWIGS provides a free summer lunch to any child that comes to one of its booths.

“We don’t want your name, we don’t want your address, we don’t want your phone number,” says Guilliams. “All we want to do is give your kids a lunch.”

While there was initial uncertainty from some families within the communities last year, this year Guilliam says, “For us, it’s word of mouth; other people in the community talking about the program and building a relationship. Because they’ve heard of us, they’re not as hesitant.”

We served 2,500 meals the whole summer. This year we’re averaging 4,000 a month. That’s where the St. Louis Area Foodbank comes in… with more variety at a much better price, we can service more kids with a nutritious meal.

Last year at the end of the summer, parents were in tears. They come and they talk and they cry. Even the community joined in and brought their families to volunteer. It’s truly about engaging everyone in the community.
A number of significant changes have occurred since TWIGS began. A huge increase in the number of kids being fed, yes, but also a huge boost to the hearts of the people who are volunteering. We’re helping the kids, but what goes out comes back. They come back with the cutest stories. Like the time two little girls came dressed up in their best little white dresses, because they were going out for lunch.

There’s been a change, and that begins to move as we bring in more and more volunteers—it begins to affect the community too. We’re helping the kids, but they’re changing hearts too and they don’t even know they’re doing it.