CARMEL, Ind. — It’s a fear that many families face as the school year draws to an end—how to provide three healthy meals every day.
According to the Carmel Youth Assistance Program, 1500 students in the Carmel Clay School District rely on free or reduced school breakfast and lunch.
Once the school year ends, the burden is placed on their parents to provide those meals over the 11-week break.
“After our first year of offering the program one of the families had mentioned that before she got this sign up, she didn’t know what she was going to do for food over the summer,” says Maggie Figge, early intervention advocate for the Carmel Youth Assistance Program.
Figge says they often hear similar testimonies from families they help. One mom described her struggle before finding out about the summer meals program.
“Facing that worry and concern for the summer was a huge stresser for her, and she was looking at what kind of bills could she wait on so that she could go get food and how she could get to the food pantries and that type of thing,” says Figge. “Taking that worry and taking that stress off for her just felt like a Godsend for her.”
Since the program’s launch two years ago, she says the number of families they’re able to help has risen.
This year the program will begin on Saturday June 1st with the “Pack the Cruiser” event.
Law enforcement officers around Hamilton County will take their cruisers to nine Kroger locations, including two in Carmel.
Volunteers will hand out lists of items they need, and they hope shoppers will take the opportunity to donate.
The items donated in Carmel will be taken to Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church and Merciful Health Center where they will be available for families to pick up.
Families unable to leave the house because of illness, work or lack of transportation can have meals delivered.
Figge says people may not think about the need because Carmel is considered an affluent area, but she says that leads to fewer places to go for assistance.
“They want to be in Carmel or Hamilton County because it is such a nice place to live, schools are great for your kids, but they work really hard to be able to make it.”
Those hoping to help can donate at Kroger, volunteer to sort food items, or host their own food drive at work or church.
Kroger released items on the list that are typically needed and appreciated.
Those items include:
- Peanut Butter
- Jelly (no glass)
- canned fruits, vegetables, soups
- Cereal Boxes
- Granola Bars
- Tuna/Chicken cans or cups
- Mac & Cheese Cups
- Instant Oatmeal
- Boxes of Crackers
- Juice boxes
Figge says she is consistently amazed by the generosity of the community, and she hopes people will come donate, no matter what county they live in.
“People in the community really want to volunteer and give, and they’re so passionate about the kids in this community. They want to make sure every kid is taken care of, not just their own kids.”
You can visit one of these 9 locations Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- 11700 Olio Road, Fishers
- 9799 E. 116th Street, Fishers
- 7272 Fishers Crossing Drive (116th and Allisonville)
- 172 W. Logan Street, Noblesville
- 14800 Hazel Dell Crossing, Noblesville
- 17447 Carey Road, Westfield
- 150 W. 161st Street, Westfield
- 1217 S. Rangeline Road, Carmel
- 10679 N. Michigan Road, Carmel