Lunch Bus intern Alexandra Goldman snapped this photo of children enjoying a boxed lunch at a recent Food Depository Lunch Bus stop.

Before starting my summer internship with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, I am ashamed to say how little I used to know about childhood hunger in Chicago. When I thought about hunger, and people going without food, my thoughts immediately would jump to those in the news that live in Third World countries. I hardly thought about the people living in my own city. I always knew children go hungry in Chicago, but I did not realize the extent of the issue in my own backyard.

The Lunch Bus is a Greater Chicago Food Depository program that distributes free boxed lunches to children in targeted Chicago communities during the summer. While the Lunch Bus program has been running for a few years now, this is the first time it has gone to the Belmont-Cragin, Austin, West Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park communities that are on my route. We make seven stops every day, and at each stop I have met some truly remarkable people: children who eat the lunches, parents who bring their kids, and various community members who assist at the sites.

One of my favorite moments every day is arriving at Iglesia Evangelica in the morning, seeing the blue blanket set out and the kids lined up waiting for us. They all like to sit picnic style, together on that blanket, enjoying their lunches while the parents chat along the sidewalk.

When I first applied for the Lunch Bus internship, I thought all I would be doing was riding around in a van delivering food to kids.  Now I realize this is so much more than that. I also get to make them smile, help parents by alleviating the struggle to provide three meals a day and assist in educating kids on nutrition and healthy options. Not only am I playing a strong role in a large number of families’ lives this summer, but they are shaping my life as well.

Lunch Bus intern Alexandra Goldman is going into her junior year at Wesleyan University where she is majoring in Psychology. 

For more information on the Food Depository’s children programs, visit chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.