Summer meals programs set to open for Ark-La-Tex children

Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 9:33am

The last day of school in Caddo Parish means thousands of kids will spend the summer in homes that are food insecure. There are about 20,000 children in the Shreveport-Bossier area who classify as food-insecure, according to the Northwest Louisiana Food Bank. Many of those will qualify for free or reduced breakfast or lunch at school, but during the summer, that's not an option.

That's why many local groups are filling the gap with summer feeding programs, which provide lunch, and sometimes breakfast, for at-risk kids. Most of the food comes from the NWLA Food Bank and is distributed among different non-profits and food pantries across the Ark-La-Tex.

The Lighthouse at Highland has a summer program for low- to moderate-income youth run by Volunteers of America. Beginning June 11,  it will serve about 700 kids, with learning and recreational opportunities throughout the day. Each child will eat breakfast at the facility and have lunch provided by a local church, according to Eileen Czerwinski. "During the summer, they're not in school, so we serve them breakfast and lunch. That may be the only meal they get to eat that day," she said.

The NWLA Food Bank, which provides much of that food, is also looking to shore up supply for the summer, which is when donations hit their lowest levels, said Martha Marak, Executive Director. "Most pepole think about it during the holidays...but if you're food insecure or you're hungry, you're hungry more than just one month out of the year," she said.

The food bank is accepting both monetary and food donations. It's also looking for local volunteers. To find out how you can help, visit the website. http://www.foodbanknla.org/

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