Nearly a fifth of Tippecanoe County youths have spotty access to food, so a local food bank hopes to bring nutrition where it’s needed most with a series of so-called “pop-up sites.”
Food Finders Chief Operating Officer Kier Crites Scherger says when children are out of school, food is even more scarce for low-income families.
“While summer seems like a fun time for a lot of people, it actually kind of becomes a burden for some families that are already struggling to make ends meet and to keep their work schedules the same and things like that,” she says.
Scherger says this summer, her agency’s program will operate 27 sites in Tippecanoe, Pulaski, Newton, Fountain, Cass and Benton counties.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, fewer than 20-percent of children on free or reduced lunch programs received free meals during the summer.
Food Finders is hoping to further expand its summer food service program by applying for a grant that would fund three new pop-up sites.
Scherger says programs like the summer food service take a burden off of the “working poor.”
“It’s that there’s a gap. So within the food insecure population, there’s about 36-percent of the food insecure that do not qualify for other federal assistance programs,” she says. “So, for that group of people – those are considered the working poor, usually – we’re their only safety net.”
Scherger says if Food Finders is awarded the ConAgra Hunger-Summer Initiative grant, they would be able to send children home with a week’s worth of food at a time.
She hopes to find out about the $50,000 grant later this week. Food Finders has won the grant in the past, but did not receive it last year.