Trinity Lutheran Church hosts summer lunch program at Mission location with additional safety measures due to pandemic

Rhonda Synovec, Trinity Lutheran Church director of family life ministry, is leading the church's summer lunch program with Harvesters.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 5601 W. 62nd Street, began its summer lunch program this week — though it looks different during a global pandemic.

For the last 15 years, the church has been partnering with Harvesters on and off as a Kids’ Cafe site, to provide nutritional meals to kids when school is out for the summer. Although Trinity has typically hosted the cafe at local parks or apartment complexes, the program has been modified to a coronavirus-friendly model.

“Normally in this program, kiddos are required to stay and eat so that we know the kids are getting the food and actually eating,” Director of Family Life Ministry Rhonda Synovec said. “Given the pandemic, the “grab-and-go” is the only way we can do distribution at this point.”

Other changes to the operation include hosting the drive-thru program in the parking lot of the Mission location, with the first “stop” including a spritz of hand sanitizer for those grabbing the lunches. If a parent cannot fit all of their children into one car, they can bring a birth certificate as proof to get lunches for as many kids as needed.

The lunches, all of which are ordered from and provided by Harvesters, come in a paper bag. Families get one meal per child, with no requirements other than proof of child (either physically or via birth certificate).

Once the certificate is shown to a volunteer it will be written down on a meal card that can be used throughout the summer, Synovec said. Children from ages 1 to 18 can receive a meal — walk-ups included — from Trinity Lutheran Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program will run through the week of August 6, about the time schools go back into session, she said.

As parents may have lost jobs or are working fewer hours amid the coronavirus pandemic, the community is seeing “a lot of hardship,” Synovec said. The summer lunch program is one way to tackle the problem.

“We feed any kid who comes through this place,” Synovec said. “If your parents are struggling during this time, we’re guaranteeing that for at least one meal, they’re getting a nutritional, wholesome meal that can impact them for the rest of their week.”

Although donations are not accepted for this program, volunteers are wanted. Training is required (children can volunteer as designated hand sanitizers). To become a volunteer, contact Synovec at Rhonda@tlcms.org.