Some children rely on the school system for their meals each day during the school year. That’s why the food bank is working to ensure there is plenty of food in place for its summer program. The Kids Cafe summer food program kicks off in the next couple of weeks, but to ensure there is plenty to go around the food bank relies on the community to make donations.
Edwin Holland runs the Southside Youth Senter and knows all too well the struggles some children face daily.
“My circumstances growing up, prior to the military, were similar to the children who come here, or some of the children that come here,” Holland said. “So, I think it is very important that we are able to provide that little bit of sustenance or food for them in the evening. Which helps them live a healthier life, a happier life.”
And if it weren’t for program like this many would go hungry. One in four kids in our area is food insecure.
“They just don’t know where their next meal is coming from or even if it is going to be coming at all,” said Ben Diekoff, Kids Café Manager. “That’s just not right. A lot of time during the school year they are able to get free and reduced breakfast, free and reduced lunch, but during the summertime, they are kind of out of luck.”
That is the last thing the food bank wants to happen, which is why the nonprofit is rallying now to ensure it can supplement the federal program.
“This is actually a government-funded program. Funded by the USDA and the TDA,” said Diekoff. “We get reimbursed for some of the meals we serve and what we don’t get reimbursed for the food bank makes up the difference.”
And that difference can be large when you consider Southside Youth Senter alone feeds about 500 kids every week all summer long.
Holland said there are some occasions where there just isn’t enough food to go around.
“It’s a touchy situation sometimes,” Holland said. “The food bank does their best to make sure we have the numbers. We try to juggle the numbers to make sure everyone gets a meal. Sometimes, depending on what they serve, we may come up a little short. When that happens, I go into my own pocket and go buy meals for the kids to make sure everyone has a meal.”
And when you consider Southside is just one of eight locations around town it will take a village to ensure these shelves are stocked and ready to serve those who would otherwise go without.
Diekoff said they are set with volunteers at the different locations but if you would like to donate or want more information click here.