CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — School’s out for summer, and several organizations are helping students find a basic need they can’t afford on their own.
Summer meal programs are running in many locations across Central Illinois. Some people say families are having a hard time reaching them. The Champaign-Urbana Health District is putting its program on wheels.
This is the first year it’s offering mobile sites, so it can offer even more meals. Organizers say they’re trying help more students. They know there are so many who may be going hungry but don’t have the means to get to programs trying to help.
Valerie Koress, with CUPHD, helps organize one of the many summer meals available. What’s different about theirs is they want to bring the meals to the students.
“Our thought is maybe kids don’t want to go to school during the summer. Maybe they want to go to a park instead but still have that benefit of receiving something that’s similar to the National School Lunch Program,” said Koress.
Food insecurity isn’t just a problem in the summer. Feeding Our Kids serves children during the school year. The program started in 2013.
“Through the years it has grown. In 2016, we had about 400 students. This year we’re serving 840 students in 33 different schools,” said Sullivan.
Because of that, they may be adding three more schools to the list they already serve. Sullivan attributes the growth to several factors.
“As we’ve grown, the word has gotten out a little bit more about our program but there’s also been a growing need,” said Sullivan.
That doesn’t end once the school year comes to a close. The Food Research and Action Center says for every 100 children who eat a meal through the program, only 12 get a meal during the summer months. That’s why Koress says summer meals are so important.
“It’s out there, and we want to help these kids,” said Koress.
Feeding Our Kids has a new program starting. It’s working with businesses and organizations to help sponsor a school needing help providing meals for students.