WTOL – Local organization works to provide kids with hot meals throughout summer

Connecting Kids to Meals serves over 6,000 hot, nutritious meals to kids throughout northwest Ohio every day throughout the summer.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As school is out for the summer, kids may not be missing class, but they could be missing out on meals.

It is something that is happening across the northwest Ohio region.

“We have one out of every four kids in our community that struggles with hunger and food insecurity,” Wendi Huntley, president and CEO of Connecting Kids to Meals, said. “And so when the summertime happens, that’s when they become even more vulnerable.”

School can be where kids get a lot of their meals and Huntley said during the school year, Connecting Kids to Meals provides around 2,500 meals per day. However, the organization sees an increase in need when summer starts.

For over 20 years, Connecting Kids to Meals has worked to make sure kids still have access to food when the school year ends.

“We’re serving about 6,000 meals at about 150 sites around the region,” Huntley said. “The majority of our sites do still exist here in greater Toledo, but we go as far out as Fostoria and Findlay, Bowling Green, North Baltimore.”

Over the past decade, Huntley said the need for meals has increased as well, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. She said rising costs have made putting meals on the table a challenge for families and this year is expected to be hard for the organization.

“If you look at where we’ve come from a year ago to now, inflation is really impacting the family wallet,” Huntley said.

Inflation has made it harder for the organization to purchase the ingredients needed to make the meals., which also need to meet certain nutrition requirements.

“I think it’s just the importance of having healthy food options for kids,” Pam Jensen, president of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, said. “Particularly when they’re out of school because a lot of time that’s the only healthy meal they get is what they’re served when they’re in school.”

Families do not have to show any proof of need for the meals, but children have to be 18 years old or younger.

There are approximately 25 locations where meals are being served and more locations will be opening in the next few weeks for the entire summer.

Thanks to WTOL for their continued coverage of Connecting Kids to Meals. To see the full story, click here.