CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Going to school on an empty stomach can already make for a difficult start to the day. But to experience that daily or even weekly can lead to detrimental outcomes for our area students. It’s a crisis for many families in Central Illinois, but those same families can find support in keeping their kids fed.

Thanks to Feeding Our Kids, a local organization started in 2013, thousands of students in Champaign schools can now look forward to a variety of breakfasts and snacks to alleviate their hunger. But it can’t be done without the nearly 200 volunteers who are tirelessly committed to putting a dent in the lack of food access. One of those volunteers, Mary Beth Bogner, has taken pride in being a member of that team.

“I’m a retired teacher, so I know what food insecurity is like for a lot of these kids and I know the kind of impact it makes on their learning and socializing. So being able to come do this to me is important. Knowing that kids in all schools are being helped and given the food they need so badly.”

For four years, Mary Beth has put in hours every week assisting with the sorting of food at the Champaign Church of Christ. That’s where she and her husband Bill place nine items in bags, 10 of which go inside a bin that’s delivered to schools. One of the delivery drivers, Katie, is also Mary Beth’s daughter. A big family effort.

Feeding Our Kids also expanded to a second location, allowing them to host another food sort at the Hope Center in Urbana. An opportunity for even more food to be received and then sent back to the families who need it most. The sorting happens three times a week, then deliveries are twice a month to area schools.

Some of those schools include Stratton, Dr. Howard and others, which is where the deliveries were sent on Tuesday. In 2021, Feeding Our Kids landed a Nutrition Director who ensures every bag is filled with a balanced and nutritious collection of foods. Something both kids and their families can benefit from.

“Our mission is simple. We provide nourishing food to food insecure kids on weekends and holidays throughout the school year. Our hope is that by doing that, we can break down one barrier that they face to help them learn and accomplish great things as they grow up. In order to do this, we have a lot of people and a lot of help,” says Alison Dupre, Executive Director of Feeding Our Kids.

To learn more about Feeding Our Kids click here.

You can find out how to become a volunteer by clicking here.