Michiana schools tackling food insecurity with summer meals programs

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While the pandemic may be nearing its end, many families are still experiencing persistent food insecurity across Michiana.

For some school corporations, helping families put food on the table doesn’t end when the school year does.

“We know that the need is there for the summer food service program. Just by looking at the stats and how many sites are being opened again this year more so than last year,” said Peggy Baer, Food Service Director for the School City of Mishawaka.

Feeding America projects that 42 million people will experience food insecurity in the country in 2021, including 13 million children. While free and reduced lunches help families during the school year, assistance is still needed during the summer months.

“You know when you have 4, 5 kids at home and you’re used to them eating school lunch, now all of a sudden you have to feed them. It makes a big difference,” said Jill Riggs, Director of Food Service at PHM School Corporation.

Riggs estimates the team at PHM will serve about 800 meals per day.

Baer said Mishawaka schools went from serving 13,000 meals a summer in 2019 to 54,000 in 2020.

Some districts only feed students but others feed the entire community.

“It’s somewhat hidden because in school of course nobody knows who has free and reduced meals and we do the same at the parks,” Riggs said. “We open it up to everybody, doesn’t matter what your financial status is, anybody can come out and get meals.”

Parks (beginning June 7)

Monday-Friday

  • Potawatomi Park
    • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Harrison Playground
    • 11 a.m. to noon
  • MLK, Jr. Center
    • 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • Charles Black Center
    • 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Howard Park
    • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Kennedy Splash Pad
    • Noon to 1 p.m.
  • Walker Field
    • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

  • Muessel Playground
    • 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday

  • Southeast Park
    • Noon to 1 p.m.
  • Coquillard Park
    • 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • Fremont Park
    • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Housing Complexes (beginning June 14)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Indian Springs
    • Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday

  • Harber Homes
    • 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Prairie Apartments
    • Noon to 1 p.m.
  • Beacon Heights
    • 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Curbside Pick-Up (beginning June 8)

5-day bulk meal kits – 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday

  • Harrison Elementary School, Door 1
  • Dickinson Fine Arts Academy, Door 15
  • Washington High School, Door 23

Wednesday

  • Monroe Elementary School, Door 7
  • Madison STEAM Academy, Door 11
  • Muessel Elementary School, Door 1

Article contributions also made by: Maura Johnson

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