Summer Food Service Programs Feed the Hungry

By Melissa Crash

Published 05/14 2014 04:02PM

Updated 05/14 2014 11:49PM

Summer months should be about relaxation and fun for children, but for some, having lunch or dinner is always on their mind.

That's when local organizations step in.

Feeding children in need during the summer is one of the state's main concerns.

With Vigo County having more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches at school, it's important to find ways for those children to eat in summer.

Brandon Helleck, the Chief Operating Officer for Chances and Services for Youth said, "We know a lot of kids are in need of lunch and nutritious meals throughout the school year. The importance is that we are able to continue that throughout the summer."

For many years, local organizations like Ryves Youth Center, provide nutritious meals to children, but what many don't know is how expensive that is for the organizations.

Jim Edwards, who is the Director of Ryves Hall Youth Center stated, "we're actually able to through the summer program be reimbursed, so we're actually able to provide a full nutritious meal to each child. Including 8 ounces of milk at each meal, fruits or vegetables, or meat substitutes, and that's really a benefit for us."

At Booker T. Washington Community Center, officials say in the past children have come in with just a bag of chips for lunch, which is why they are stepping in.

"For our organization, we serve hundreds of kids each year which equates to more than 6,000 meals that we've provided for the year," said Helleck.

The state also requires a training session for summer food service programs. Wednesday at Ivy Tech many service groups met to prep their plans, while also planning to prep their kitchens.

"It's a good way each year to be able to get on the same page and make sure that everyone understands any of the issues or the requirements the state wants us to have," said Edwards.

Not only is this a summer food service, most of the organizations in Terre Haute that participate also prepare meals all year around.

The state is challenging the service groups to increase their participation by 12 percent this year, so more children and adults can receive help.

Also, some groups require no proof of need. If you're hungry, you'll get a meal.

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