Food banks are looking for extra donations as the summer months begin
With summer being just around the corner, food banks are reminding people that now is an important time to donate with school ending for the year.
However, with school ending, some students are losing access to meals they need, leaving them with fewer options for food - specifically, fewer healthy options.
"In our service area, there's about 35,000 children who don't know where their next meal is coming from and that covers our 21 counties," Public Relations Manager for the Central Illinois Foodbank Ashley Earnest said.
According to Feeding America, one in six Illinois children struggles with hunger.
"It's something that we're very conscious about and really work hard to try to fill that need, especially in the summer months when school's not in session, when they're not receiving breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner," Director of Resource Development and Community Relations for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois Tiffany Mathis said.
But as summer is beginning, Sangamon County is looking to make sure no child goes hungry.
"Even if students don't attend boys and girls club for summer programming specifically, if they're in that 18 or younger range, they're more than welcome to come here during our serving times and partake in breakfast or lunch," Mathis said.
Officials plan to help keep children 18-years-old and younger fed by using summer food service programs.
Some of the volunteer locations where food is served includes the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois as well as 10 District 186 schools. Those, among other locations, will serve both breakfast as well as lunch for free to those who are 18-years-old and younger.
"We partner with some of our community sites to host something called 'kids cafe.' So we have eight sites around the community where kids can go and that's an operation to have access to free meals," Earnest said.
Earnest said that hunger for children and adults is a major problem throughout the entire year. However, the main reason even more children go up in risk for going hungry during the summer months large in part because school is out for the year and many children utilize the meals that are served there.
"We know the need goes up during the summer because children are out of school. It's important to realize that all of the food donations that come into our food bank go out locally. So we serve 21 counties, so food that comes into us goes back out to our neighbors," Earnest said.
Both the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois and the Central Illinois Foodbank said they need donations.
If you would like to donate or volunteer to help serve meals, you can access that page here.