TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Officials say that 60% or more of kids in Vigo County receive free or reduced school lunches.

Many students look forward to school lunch, it’s a sure place to get a healthy meal.

“Once that last day of school hits, for a lot of parents, it now becomes their priority to make sure those kiddos are getting a nutritious, healthy lunch,” Jessica Murphy, Development Manager at Catholic Charities of Terre Haute said. “We know that grocery prices are going up, inflation in general, so, for some of these households they’re now having to increase their grocery budgets for 2, 3, 4 or more children.”

Each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture partners with local organizations like Catholic Charities to provide free meals to children when school is out for the summer.

“We can’t let them go hungry,” Scotia Brown, Principal of Sarah Scott Middle School said.

Brown knows the need. Her staff and students take pride in a school food pantry known as Grandma’s Cupboard. Grandma’s Cupboard provides monthly food boxes to families in need. As well as take-home bags for students over the weekend. Bags were packed in partnership with Catholic Charities to send home Wednesday, the last day of school.

“There are many families who struggle to make ends meet. So, to be able to provide food for families in need is something we really, really love doing,” Brown said. “For example, last month when we had our food distribution, we fed over 420 people. And it’s good to know we’re meeting the need of those in our community.”

A need that many take for granted.

Brown said Sarah Scott will continue their food distribution throughout the summer months. A program the students have taken ownership of to take care of one another. Families in need can pull up in front of the school to receive a box. Summer food distribution dates at Sarah Scott are June 10, July 12, and August 9 from 9:00 AM until 10:00 AM.

Grandma’s Cupboard at Sarah Scott has been serving families for 8 years. Brown said the success of the food pantry is because of the generosity of donors. Grandma’s Cupboard welcomes donations of non-perishable food items.

Catholic Charities hopes to take some of the burdens of where the next meal comes from away from students and families this summer.

“Vigo County and the service area for Terre Haute Catholic Charities Food Bank, we have one of the highest food insecurity rates for children in the entire state,” Murphy said. “So, we know that it’s an issue here, we know that it’s a priority, especially for these parents, especially in the summer. So, it’s our role to take some of that burden off of them and we’re happy to have a youth center full of kids this summer.”

The summer food service program will be kicked off on Friday, May 26 with an afternoon of fun. The event will take place at Ryves Youth Center from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM in the parking lot across from the center. The event will feature summer fun, snow cones, popcorn, and games. Dinner will be served for children and their caregivers beginning at 4:30 PM. There is no cost to attend.

Summer meals at the Ryves Youth Center will be available to students 18 and under. The program officially begins on Tuesday, May 30, and runs through August 9. The summer food service program offers a snack and lunch from 11:00 AM until 12:00 PM. Dinner is served from 4:00 PM until 5:30 PM. Both lunch and dinner are served Monday through Friday.