Every weekday this summer, just after 1 p.m., the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Lunch Bus pulled up to a church painted with vibrant murals in Pilsen. Some days, nearly 100 children anxiously waited as a daily ritual unfolded.
A volunteer set up a table. A door swung open. A smiling AmeriCorps member begins to distribute the meals and milk. The Lunch Bus has arrived.
Nine-year-old Itzel, her 2-year-old brother Julian and their mother Blanca were there nearly every day this summer.
“Everything is so expensive so this helps,” said Blanca. “We have to keep things tight right now.”
Blanca is currently unemployed, but her husband is working.
“His income just isn’t enough for us,” she said.
The children ate nutritious meals at the Lunch Bus stop, but Itzel’s favorite part about the Lunch Bus isn’t a specific food.
“Just having the lunch is my favorite part,” she said.
Scenes similar to this one occurred at 21 Lunch Bus stops each day this summer. In total, the Lunch Bus distributed approximately 42,900 meals. And, through all the Food Depository’s summer meal programs, 600,000 meals were delivered throughout Cook County – the organization’s largest-ever response to summer hunger.
The Food Depository’s summer hunger response would not be possible without the funding allocated by the Child Nutrition Reauthorization – a federal bill that funds children’s programs throughout the country. This legislation expired at the end of September. The Food Depository continues to advocate for a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization that helps ensure children have the food they need to grow up healthy. Learn how to make a difference at chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy.