FISHERS, Ind. - Child advocates, public officials, faith and service-based organizations and the local food bank have all teamed up to create a summer lunch program for the Carmel Clay and Hamilton Southeastern School Districts.
“We have a large very affluent community. However, again there’s a cost to live there and not everybody can meet it easily.’ Trisha Straus, an early intervention advocate for Fisher's Youth Assistance Program, said. “There are times when our families have a choice, 'Am I going to put food on my table or continue to pay my rent and electricity?’"
One in seven students at HSE participate in the free or reduced lunch program, but when school ends each year those families are often left with the task of providing those meals.
Last year, one parent, who Straus works with, asked her about what resources are available for families and their children during the summer.
“(The mother said) we're used to having the benefits of the school lunch program now I have three mouths at home, a bunch of medical bills and we were wondering if there were any resources?" Straus said. “I kind of looked county wide and said there’s a major gap here we need to work on filling.”
So Straus brainstormed with her colleague in Carmel, Maggie Figge, and the two started rallying community groups together to launch the program.
This year between the two school districts more than 500 of the neediest children were invited to participate.
“It’s life changing for these children," Straus said. "A lot of them have parents that are just stressed out about providing the basic means."
Summer lunch programs are expanding throughout all the communities in Hamilton County this year and the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank needs help with donations and volunteers to keep all the programs going. If you'd like to get involved click here.