More kids than ever expected for 2016 summer food program

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – School is out for the summer.

That means some kids may have one less meal.

That’s where the summer food program comes into play.

“We served over 70 thousand meals each day last summer,” Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, said.

Ritz says that number isn’t going down.

There are more than 70 locations in Allen County offering free lunches throughout the day to children from age one to 18, more and more of those children needing the meal each summer.

“We are at 22 percent poverty of our children. We’ve got to make sure that we are feeding them breakfast and lunch and making sure they’re getting dinner and nutritious meals,” Ritz said.

The question is why?

Ritz thinks it all relates to jobs.

“We have more and more families that are working what I consider to be low wage jobs. Really working, many of them, two jobs and not still being able to get food on the table,” she said.

One local woman says she too thinks a lack of well paying jobs is causing the repeated increase.

“People don’t have jobs you know so it makes it hard to afford food,” Cynthia Robinson.

She takes kids from her child care program and her own two children to the lunch.

Seeing extra families is nothing new, and she recommends the program to anyone needing a little help.

“It helps kids because if there’s some kids that aren’t fortunate enough to get food at home they can come to the program sites and still get food over the summer,” Robinson said.

To find out where head children can receive a free lunch, head to the Indiana Department of Education‘s website.

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