It's the fourth day of the summer meal program at the Duryea skate park where low-income children can eat healthy meals during their school break. And so many kids are turning out that site manager Jess Adametz thinks she might run out of food.
Today's lunch is turkey sandwiches with green beans and mixed fruit cocktail. About 16 children eat at picnic tables under the pavilion and she's expecting more to keep trickling in.
"It's important because you are filling the gap for children and it gets kids out of the house," she says of the booming demand at her site.
This is the second year that the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, which serves counties in northeast Pennsylvania, provides summer meals to children in Duryea, a working class, former mining community outside of Wilkes-Barre that has been struggling to recover after a catastrophic flood in 2011.
But despite the demand at Duryea, there's still a lot more hungry mouths out there.
The food bank has stepped up efforts to reach more children during the summer months. It serves summer meals to 2,400 children in a three-county area, about 15% of the children eligible for the program.
That tracks with national data that shows of the 22 million children eligible for free and reduced lunch during the school year, only 15% receive free meals during the summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses organizations that run the programs for the meals.
Now programs across the USA are scrambling to feed those children during the summer break. Food banks, which often run the programs, are going to skate parks, libraries, fire stations and isolated country roads, anywhere that children gather, to bring them lunch.
For some children, it's the only full meal of the day.
"You hear heart-wrenching stories about how scarce food is at home," says Gretchen Hunt, director of Weinberg's nutrition programs. "You'll hear how ramen noodles are all they ate for two days."
She says the summer is often a financial burden for low-income parents, particularly those in minimum wage jobs, because they have to set aside more money to feed their children.
Diana Slater, 46, brings her 12- and 8-year-old daughters to the Duryea park every day for lunch. She says her girls eat healthy meals at home, but the summer lunches in the park make feeding the girls easier. She works part-time at a local grocery store and her husband works the overnight shift at a warehouse.
"I don't have to worry about that part of the meal," she says. "Financially, it helps us out."
Ross Fraser, a spokesman for Feeding America, which serves as an umbrella organization for 200 food banks across the country, says school funding cuts that eliminated summer schools have hurt summer meal programs because there are fewer places now where children gather in one spot.
He says it is expensive to run the programs and in places where the programs exist, they are often difficult to reach for families living in remote areas.
Beefed up efforts that began last year have reached more children, says Jim Weil, president of the Food Research and Action Center. He says 161,000 more eligible children received summer meals last year. A total of 3 million children received summer meals in 2013.
In Lane County, Ore., where rural communities nestled in remote stretches of the Cascade Mountains make it harder to reach children during the summer months, the local food bank is making lunch stops at post offices, fire stations and in one area, the intersection of two rural roads.
"We struggle to reach kids that are spread out all over the county," says Karen Roth, the child nutrition programs manager for FOOD for Lane County.
In the rural areas, where the post office or fire station is the only meeting place, the children come down from the hills, eat and then go back up.
This year the food bank is opening a new site in an unincorporated area known as Camp Six, which was once a bustling community for those working in the lumber industry. Today, the area is an isolated cluster of cabins and homes where children have to be bussed 20 minutes to the nearest school.
The area is so remote, says Roth, the food banks serve lunch at the intersection of the only roads with names, High Prairie and Huckleberry. The children, she says, ride bikes to get there.
"This is a forgotten community," she says. "These kids have nothing during the summer … The need is out there, but it's more insidious and hidden from view."