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Hunger Beat

The Lunch Bus gives confidence after a bike accident

Summer meals offer stability and hope after an injury

June 7, 2014 was Cody Ziemkowski's first day of summer.

He spent it like most other kids do, riding his bike around the neighborhood with his dad, Kevin.

The two passed a skate park, and Cody asked to go down a small ramp. As he started on the ramp, he fell off and flipped over his handle bars.

After the accident, he didn't appear to be injured. His mom, Colleen, took him to urgent care just in case.

“What he looked like didn’t match what was going on internally," Colleen said.

After a scan, doctors discovered a serious brain injury and rushed him to Hope Children’s Hospital. Within the next few days, Cody underwent major surgery. The family left the hospital room with a bill over $100,000.

That summer, Colleen would take Cody to the Greater Chicago Food Depository's Lunch Bus program. They started going to the program the summer before to get the kids out of the house. The Lunch Bus, a mobile summer meal program, stopped at a nearby school in Lansing.

"We had massive trauma going on, and still do," Colleen said. "The Lunch Bus was another one of those things that was a constant before the accident that we enjoyed, so going back to that made it something to look forward to."

Not only did the Lunch Bus help keep stability in the Ziemkowski family's life, it helped offset their mounting bills.

"We will forever be so much in debt," Colleen said. "It helped with our medical bills, we still have them and we will never be done. Knowing that there was a well-rounded meal around the corner gave us peace of mind."

The Lunch Bus not only was a staple in Cody's life that summer, but has become an influential part of their family.

"I am so grateful that you put food in my babies' bellies," Colleen said. "But beyond that, this Lunch Bus is a big part of their childhood."

The Ziemkowski family’s story is featured in the From Hungry to Hopeful™ campaign. 

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