Summer. Just the word brings thoughts of campfires and s’mores, catching fireflies, digging your toes in the wet sand and long, carefree days. For one in four children in Indiana, though, summer has another meaning. It’s the time of year when light meals get lighter and school lunches disappear. While almost 25 percent of Hoosier children struggle with hunger year-round, this time of year is especially tough for families that are dependent upon the free and reduced breakfasts and lunches served in our public schools.
During the summer, food pantries are challenged to stock enough groceries to meet this increased need. The Salvation Army operates food pantries in busy cities and small towns across Indiana, helping breadwinners bridge the gap between paychecks and prevent parents from having to choose between feeding their family and paying a utility bill.
What does hunger mean for a child? Proper nutrition is vital to the development of strong, healthy bodies. It has also been linked to performance in school and cognitive development. In a state where 12 percent of households struggle to put food on the table, hunger affects more than individuals – it affects the future of Indiana and generations to come.
Hoosiers of all ages benefit from Salvation Army food pantries and feeding programs. In 2013 The Salvation Army served 66,160 families in need of food assistance, but an additional 41,986 individuals were also helped. Many of these people were elderly and on fixed incomes. Others were facing unexpected medical bills or the sudden loss of a job. All together, The Salvation Army was able to serve almost 295,000 people and 1.8 million meals over the course of just a year.
How is all this possible? Through the incredible support of donors – whether they drop off canned goods during a food drive, mail a check to help with the purchase of fresh produce or leave a legacy gift to keep programs operating well into the future. This is the miracle that helps The Salvation Army’s feeding programs battle hunger every day of the year, and we thank those who keep our pantries filled and families fed this summer.
If you would like to help out your local food pantry or Salvation Army feeding program, you can find the location of your nearest Corps Community Center here. You can also make donations online to help support after school feeding programs and soup kitchens by visiting our donation page.