Each year tens of thousands of Rockford area families rely on the kindness of strangers so they don't go hungry. Local agencies use the month of May to focus on the problem. The need for food will be even greater in just a couple weeks.
That's because school's getting out. While kids might be excited for no homework and all play, according to local food pantry organizers, 70% of Rockford area public school students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, sometimes breakfast as well. That means some kids might miss out on a meal or even two every day this summer.
"Currently one out of six children are living in poverty within the Rockford area. We are seeing more than 2,800 each month that need our services," says Rock River Valley Pantry Executive Director Kim Bakke.
Fortunately for those less fortunate, there are options. The Rock River Valley Pantry has food to give. Pantry volunteers and staff focus on handing out hearty, balanced meals.
"Part of that is our Peanut Butter Rally which will be wrapping up the first week in June, because every kid can put together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it's a good protein," says Bakke.
Farther North, Machesney Park's Boys & Girls Club is in the middle of a neighborhood filled with need.
"From June 10th to August 2nd, we have lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. that we can offer to anyone who is age 1 to 18 years-old. They can come and get some food and that is something that is really important for this area because some of those children otherwise would go without lunch in the summer," says Carlson Boys & Girls Club Front Desk Manager Terre McGee.
The Rock River Valley Pantry predicts more than 7,000 people will use services each month this summer. Almost half will be kids. Boys & Girls Club workers think 50 to 70 kids a day will eat the free meals given out during their six-week summer program. If you want to help, click here for a link to RRVP and here for Carlson Boys & Girls Club.
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