APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – When classes are in session, families who are struggling financially rely on school meals. But what happens when it’s summer?
Monday is the first day of the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley’s summer food service program. The club provides kids with breakfast, lunch, and a snack every day.
The US Department of Agriculture funds the program and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administers it.
During the summer, they serve between 200 and 300 kids which is twice the amount they serve during the school year.
“Food is one of the most important things that you can give to kids to help them grow,” said Barb Rivers, who is the Healthy Habits Food Program Coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley.
From June 6 until August 18, the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley and Menasha will provide these meals. They will be available from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Fox Valley location in Appleton and from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. in Menasha.
The Boys & Girls Club of Manitowoc will serve free meals from June 20 until Aug. 12 from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Over at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, officials there also say summer is the time of year when they see the greatest need because families can no longer rely on school food programs.
“Kids shouldn’t have to worry about hunger at all and that’s the pressure that’s on their parents,” said Scott Marshall, who is the Vice President of Development and Communication with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.
According to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, one in five Wisconsin children are food insecure and that number goes up during the summer.
In 2021, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin provided its partners with 53 million pounds of food. That’s significantly higher than the $38 million they provided in 2020 and the $25 million in 2019.
“When you throw in the problem of inflation, gas prices, the price of things at the grocery store it really is a significant problem,” said Marshall.
Marshall said they purchase kid-friendly food like macaroni and cheese ahead of summer in anticipation of some of the school year food programs ending and the need for food services, especially for children, increasing.
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin officials also say they have mobile distribution sites that travel to places they know are far away from grocery stores or that have lots of people who face food insecurity.
Here’s a link to an interactive map with pantry locations, summer meal sites, and farmers’ markets that accept FoodShare.