JUNE 27, 2011 -- When school is out for summer, the St. Louis Area Foodbank sees a sharp increase in the need for food donations.
The reason: many kids rely on federal lunch and breakfast programs for food, said Ryan Farmer, communications manager for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. For example, in St. Louis Public Schools alone, more than 20,600 students recieved free or reduced-cost meals in 2010. Hunger knows no boundaries, and tens of thousands more students across the metro area also rely on their schools for meals.
"It's not a time of year people think about hosting food drives," Farmer said. "Kids comprise the largest segment of people receiving food assistance from the food bank." In fact, he said 39 percent of individuals served by the St. Louis Area Foodbank are children under 18.
That's why the foodbank is asking for help providing food to hungry kids.
How Your Family Can Help the Foodbank
There are three ways families can help the food bank: hosting a food drive, volunteering at the foodbank or participating in Feed Our Future at Shop-N-Save locations through July 2.
Families can organize a food drive at their businesses, schools, churches or neighborhoods. The foodbank will provide collection barrels and will pick up food. For more information or to coordinate a food drive, contact LaCasey Milton at 314-292-5761.
"Another great way to help is to volunteer," Farmer said. He's seen families with children as young as 3-4 years volunteer together.
Anna Leong has been volunteering at the foodbank headquarters in Bridgeton with her family since her youngest child was 7 years old.
Her two kids enjoy volunteering alongside mom and dad, Leong said. "When you can do something to help other people, then you feel like you've spent your time well, and it's a feeling of accomplishment," she said.
Foodbank staff are flexible with volunteer scheduling she said, and her family's tasks often involve organizing and packaging food for delivery to those in need. Through volunteering, Leong said, her kids have come to see how important the foodbank is to people going through hard times.
"It's definitely very, very sombering to know there are people out there that depend on it," she said. "It makes you much more grateful for what you have."
Families that wish to volunteer at the St. Louis Area Foodbank can get in touch with Trish Jenner at 314-292-5397.
Pictured: Students from Forsyth School volunteer at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Area Foodbank