DERRY — The Salvation Army may be most visible during the Christmas holidays, but they are in action all year long.
The Salvation Army canteen truck is out delivering up free lunches every week, offering children in Derry and Londonderry a chance to have a good meal when they’re not in school.
The program began in Derry last week. More than 90 lunches were served the first day at the Fairways apartment complex.
Lunches are served at the Fairways every Tuesday. On Thursday, meals are served at Hood Park. Lunch is served from noon to 1 p.m. for ages 18 and under.
The Londonderry meal schedule started Wednesday, with lunches being served at Woodland Apartments on South Road.
Children do not have to live in that particular neighborhood to receive lunches.
For this, the fourth summer, it’s a chance to help families and children all summer long to make sure good nutrition stays on the family agenda.
There is still a great need for donations to support the Salvation Army effort, something supporter Frank Childs says is a year-long effort.
Childs is Derry’s chief financial officer and also a member of the Salvation Army’s advisory board. He volunteers at the lunch truck every Thursday.
Childs said the need is great for donations to support the Salvation Army’s programs, especially the summer lunch program. Red kettle donations were down last season by $50,000 from what the organization had estimated.
He said there were a number of factors at play.
“The first is that Thanksgiving was late in 2013 and that will be the case again this year,” Childs said. “Secondly, donations were generally down. This was not a phenomenon for Derry, but generally impacted most units.”
The summer lunch program is hurting, too, with decreased donations of food and money.