Award-Winning St. Luke’s Summer Meals Program for Schoolchildren Returns to Allentown and Quakertown

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(Photo provided to TVL by SLUHN)

For the sixth consecutive year, the St. Luke’s Summer Meals Program will be providing free lunches in Allentown and Quakertown to ensure every child in need has access to nutritious meals during the summer months.

St. Luke’s Community Health Department created the Summer Meals program in response to the Network’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which showed that more than half of students in these areas are eligible for free and reduced meals during the academic year.

“The goal of St. Luke’s Summer Meals is to continue to address the gap in food security during the summer,” explains Kelsey Gasper, Network Initiatives Coordinator, Community Health.

St. Luke’s is once again partnering with Catholic Charities to serve the Allentown community and Free Fall Action Sports to serve the Quakertown community.

The Summer Meals Program at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus runs June 10 to August 23, Monday through Friday, from 12 to 2:00 p.m. except on the July 4th holiday. Lunches will be distributed at 317 N. 4th Street in Allentown at the Hearts in Service (H.I.S.) Center, next to Allentown Central Catholic High School.

Every Tuesday, fresh produce will also be available for children to share with their families, and on Fridays, they will be given bags full of non-perishable food to take home for the weekends.

The Summer Meals Program at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus is supported by West Side Hammer Electric, a division of Hatzel & Buehler, which is committed to making an impact in the communities where they live and work.

“The Summer Meals initiative has evolved into a great partnership with Catholic Charities in Allentown, and benefits tremendously from the generous support of West Side Hammer Electric. Children who otherwise might suffer from food insecurity can be assured that they will have access to nutritious meals,” says Diana Vargas, St. Luke’s Allentown Community Health Liaison Manager.

The St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus Summer Meals Program will also run June 10 to August 23, Monday through Friday, from 12 to 2:00 p.m. except on the July 4th holiday. Lunches will be distributed at Free Fall Action Sports Energy Center at 670 S. Main Street in Quakertown.

This location will also be providing fresh produce for children to share with their families every Tuesday, and children will receive a bag full of non-perishable food to take home to their families for the weekends each Friday.

Penn Community Bank has invested in St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus Summer Meals since the program began.

“This program has been a priority based on our CHNA and we are honored to provide access to healthy summer meals for our Quakertown community. Thanks to the generosity of Penn Community Bank, more children have access to food and other vital resources they need and deserve,” says Kathy Ramson, St. Luke’s Quakertown and Upper Bucks Community Health Liaison.

The contributions from West Side Hammer Electric and Penn Community Bank support a partnership to oversee the program, ensuring children have access to a wider variety of healthy meal options, weekly fresh produce, nourishment over the weekends, financial literacy education and other engaging activities.

Produce for the program’s meals is provided by St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm. The take-home bags of fresh produce, along with recipes and meal preparation ideas, are provided through the St. Luke’s Community Supported Agriculture program.

The program is garnering national attention. SLUHN’s Department of Community Health recently earned the 2023 Gold-Level Turnip the Beet Award – the highest level possible – for its summer meals program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

The Turnip the Beet Award recognizes outstanding summer meal program sponsors throughout the United States each year. St. Luke’s Summer Meals program is one of only two award recipients – and the only health system honored – in Pennsylvania.

Gasper encourages community members in need to take advantage of the award-winning St. Luke’s Summer Meals program.

“Our doors are open, and we welcome you in to come eat a hot, nutritious meal. We have other resources available to help address any other needs you may have. We are here to help!” she says.

Separately, St. Luke’s is also supporting the Summer Meals Program in the Upper Perkiomen School District provided by The Open Link with weekly CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares throughout the summer.


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 20,000 employees providing services at 15 campuses and 350+ outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue of $3.4 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties in two states: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. St. Luke’s hospitals operate the largest network of trauma centers in Pennsylvania, with the Bethlehem Campus being home to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, the Network established the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 52 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with more than 500 residents and fellows. In 2022, St. Luke’s, a member of the Children’s Hospital Association, opened the Lehigh Valley’s first and only free-standing facility dedicated entirely to kids.

SLUHN is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system to earn Medicare’s five-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  It is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  The Network’s flagship University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from Fortune/PINC AI 10 years in a row, including in 2023 when it was identified as THE #4 TEACHING HOSPITAL IN THE COUNTRY.  In 2021, St. Luke’s was identified as one of the 15 Top Health Systems nationally.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  The Network is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest-cost providers.


Information provided to TVL by:
Sam Kennedy