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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A growing number of children on free and reduced cost lunches during the school year, means more kids will be struggling to find healthy food options during summer months.

According to statistics from Jump IN For Healthy Kids, more than 50 percent of students in Marion County are on free or reduced cost lunch programs. In some areas of the county, those numbers are even higher- at 80 or 90 percent of the student population.

“There’s a perception that this is an issue only in the urban core or only an issue with IPS, but poverty impact a significant number of kids in all of the school districts in Marion County,” said JumpIn CEO Ron Gifford.

Most school districts give students the options for free breakfast and lunch during summer. You can check with your child’s school district to find dates, times and locations. Many food pantries are also keeping kids in mind as they stock their shelves this summer.

“Well come this summer, we will definitely see more kids. We’ll see families here often times they receive food based on their household size, so in the summer time, we start to see parts of the household especially the kids,” said Mark Brown Sr., the Senior Pastor at Wineskin Ministries.

Organizations like Jump IN are encouraging families to find food options for their children this summer that are nutritious.

“If kids aren’t eating nutritious foods and they’re not being physically active, they’re going to end up at an unhealthy weight,” said Gifford.

More communities are losing access to healthy food options and families are choosing fast food over driving miles to a grocery store for fresh produce.

“The key is convenience. One of the challenges we have is we live in an environment where it’s easy to get unhealthy food,” Gifford added.

The problem is a big concern for our community. FOX59 is planning on taking action and working to help feed children in need. We are partnering with local food pantries for our Pack the Pantries initiative. Stayed tuned for more details in the next few weeks.