Indy Parks served more than 300,000 meals to Hoosier kids last year through their after-school meal program. 

They say they’ve seen an increased need throughout the pandemic, with more families reaching out for help. Luckily, there are still meals available.

Today, there are an estimated 17 million children struggling with hunger in America — 6 million more than before the pandemic. It’s a growing concern around the country and here at home.

Nine years ago, Indy Parks launched their after-school meal program after noticing a growing number of Hoosier kids were going hungry throughout the day.

The program provides a free meal for anyone 18 years or younger at parks around the city.

When the program started, Indy Parks was distributing snacks, but they’ve expanded to serving meals after noticing a growing need. That need has nearly tripled throughout the pandemic. 

The program’s manager says giving a child a full belly helps them focus at school and takes one less thing off their plate.

“When we were seeing kids after school hours and they were already hungry, we realized they had nothing to look forward to when they got home,” said Tikilia Tinker-Martin, manager of Indy Parks Food Programs. “When we gave them a snack or meal, because of the resources poured into us. We saw children’s behaviors change, their attitude change.”

Indy Parks is still serving students this year at parks around the Indianapolis area, including: Christian, Riverside, Frederick Douglass, Washington, Municipal Gardens, Windsor Village and Pride parks. For times and locations, click here.

They are also in need of volunteers, so if you’d like to help with the after-school meal program, click here or check out their Facebook page.