Helping Kids Thrive All Year Long

kids sitting at table eating lunch

When kids are hungry, they can’t thrive. That’s why we support numerous hunger-relief agencies that work to end childhood hunger throughout our 40-county service area. Whether they directly serve children, or ensure parents have sufficient groceries to cook a healthy dinner, our partners work hard to keep kids’ bellies full.

kids sitting at table eating lunch

Summer Programs

Many children rely on their schools to provide breakfast and lunch, either for free or at a reduced cost. When school is not in session, hunger threatens children across the country. Meet Up & Eat Up sites ensure this vulnerable population doesn’t go without. All summer long, anyone 18 and under can eat for free.

We also work with eight summer camps that serve children from low-income families. The camps are able to offset their food costs — and provide families in need with larger discounts — by receiving snacks or food to prepare meals from the food bank.

Backpack Programs

Children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches might come home to empty cupboards on weekends. Backpack programs provide these children with lots of healthy, shelf-stable meals and snacks so they don’t have to wait until Monday morning to nourish themselves.

We currently support 72 backpack programs including the one run by Angels of Action. This nonprofit utilizes the food bank to fill 800 bags each week for kids at risk of going hungry on the weekend. Every Friday, the nonprofit distributes these bags at 12 schools across Mecosta County. Angels of Action also provides teachers with snacks for their classrooms to help students stay focused during the week.

“We know the stories are all different,” said Joni, Angels of Action’s Executive Director. “All we care is that if a kid is hungry and needs food, that they get a bag.”

Kids volunteering at a Mobile Pantry

Mobile Food Pantries

Mobile Pantries are like farmers markets on wheels, delivering a variety of fresh produce and other nutritious items to neighbors in need, often on the same day the food is donated. Because of COVID-19, Mobile Pantry hosts are seeing many more families seeking help.

We meet families receiving food at many of the 100+ Mobile Pantries hosted across our service area each month. To reach even more children and families, we work with 26 schools to host Mobile Pantries in high-need areas. No matter the location, Mobile Pantries help children and families easily access fresh groceries when they need it most.

Read the stories of some families who have benefitted from this program.

All of these programs and more help ensure children don’t have to face the detrimental side effects of hunger.