At the end of each school year, some local families have to worry about how they will feed their children when they’re not in school.
To address the problem, the Carmel Youth Assistance Program began offering summer meals in 2017. This year, the program provided meals to 259 children, which is an increase of 45 percent from last year.
“One of the underlying issues I kept hearing about was food insecurities,” said Maggie Figge, a CYAP early intervention advocate. “Most of the families that we work with are eligible for the free and reduced meals program. During the school year, they’re spending little or no money on breakfast and lunch for their kids. During the summer, their kids are home, and all of a sudden they’re spending a lot of money on it.”
Food is obtained through monetary or food donations through events like Pack the Cruiser. Families can pick up the food at three Carmel locations.
“We have three different distribution sites geographically spread out, Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church and Merciful HELP Center,” Figge said.
CYAP provides food that is shelf-stable and easy for kids to prepare who may be home alone during the day.
“These families don’t have the luxury of being able to be home with their kids during the day in the summer,” Figge said. “So, we try to provide things the kids can make themselves.”
The reaction from families has been overwhelming.
“There are so many hidden blessings in this program,” Figge said. “On the outside, you’re getting kids food in the summer. That is amazing in and of itself, but because these families are going to the same locations every Sunday, they’re building relationships with the volunteers.”
Meals also can be delivered through the Carmel Rotary Club to families with special circumstances. For more, visit youthassistance.org/carmel.