Phyllis Shaughnessy was dismayed when she learned the local meal program for low-income students would be cut for the summer.
Shaughnessy is a retired postmaster and a part-time substitute teacher in Copalis Beach, Washington. From her experience working with children, she would know that there are 15,000 kids and teens living below the poverty line in Grays Harbor County, where her town is located.
During the school year, low-income students can get their lunches through free or discounted meal programs at school.
But this year, the North Beach School District was forced to cut summer meals when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a change to their grant requiring the meals be served in a single location — a nearly impossible task in a region with a spread out rural population.
Realizing that local low-income families couldn't afford to fill this gap, Shaughnessy decided to fill the gap herself.
Shaughnessy acquired a caterer's license and began bringing lunches to kids who were affected by the summer lunch program cut. She called the program "Green Lantern Lunches" after Green Lantern Pub in Copalis Beach, whose owners offered the pub's kitchen to prepare meals.
The pub does other cool stuff too, like host Harley-Davidson weekends:
Every morning, Shaughnessy and a handful of volunteers delivered lunches to more than 200 low-income children. 90 of those lunches were delivered by Shaughnessy herself.
Parents told reporters for USA Today how much their children enjoy seeing Shaughnessy each morning. The kids have come to anticipate the sight of her navy blue car with the custom-made "Green Lantern Lunches" signs on its doors.
In USA Today's video, Shaughnessy says she doesn't just do it to give the children food, she does it for the human connection it brings, for "love and hope".
"They need to know that somebody cares," she says.
The program is now looking to purchase school supplies and provide the kids with meals on weekends and holidays.
They have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to keep their awesome program going.
I'm from Seattle and my mom and I have taken trips to Copalis Beach since I was a little kid. I remember driving past Green Lantern Tavern with its vibrant green walls and trim (and finally going in for a drink after I'd turned 21). This area gave me a lot of happy memories, and I wish its residents all the best.
Cheers to Phyllis Shaughnessy and her team, for all the happy memories you're giving to your community's kids.