Denise Ogilvie, Vice President, Outreach and Grants Management

Remember, as a kid, that excitement surrounding the last day of school? It meant summer had finally arrived. It was a care-free time filled with fun and friends.

As adults, we don’t always look at summer in quite the same way. It’s a time filled with stress and worry for many parents, especially if they rely on free or reduced price lunches to help out with feeding their children during the school year.

To help fill that meal gap, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas offers a Kids Summer Food Program. With the help of local volun- teers, nutritious sack lunches are provided free of charge to all children 18 years and younger. Adult meals are also available, so parents can eat with their kids. This year, some of the sites will offer take-home snack bags on Fridays so kids have something to eat over the weekend.

Now in its fourth year, our Summer Food Program is at 30 sites throughout 12, mostly rural, counties. These sites are typically places where kids are already gathering such as libraries, parks and community pools. All are located in areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty level.

Keeping in mind that summer is about the fun for kids, we offer a number of engaging activities at the sites, as well. The kids play games, paint, color and make things. It’s a great way to encourage additional learning while providing a safe environment.

Last year, 15,264 meals were provided to children and adults through the Summer Food Program. We expect that number to grow. It’s our hope that through programs like this, someday hunger won’t be a part of any child’s summer vacation.