|The Lunch Bus distributes meals to children during the summer at 21 stops throughout Cook County. The program is just one way the Food Depository is addressing summer hunger.|
For children, hunger does not end during the summer.
Amanda Yepez is the Kids Cafe coordinator at Casa Juan Diego, a Greater Chicago Food Depository program in Pilsen. During the school year, her site serves meals to more than 50 children. During the summer, that number practically doubles.
“We want to make sure that children have a meal and a place to go,” Amanda said. “We know there’s a need here. Many of these families are struggling to survive.”
Ricardo Marines, Casa Juan Diego’s assistant director, knows that many children struggle to access food when school is out.
“Summer isn’t fun and games for all children. Some wake up hungry without a meal at school,” he said.
During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school. But in the summer, only 14 percent of eligible children in Illinois utilize free meals.
This summer, the Food Depository will sponsor approximately 300 summer meal sites, including Kids Cafes, the Lunch Bus and the Department of Family and Support Service’s Summer Nutrition Program. Through those programs, the Food Depository aims to distribute more than 400,000 meals this summer.