Volunteer or Make Donations in Cleveland for a Hunger Free Summer! #HungerFreeSummer

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Disclosure: This post is a sponsored opportunity brought to you by ConAgra Foods Hunger Free Summer Initiative with The Motherhood. However, all opinions are my own.

Summer should be a fun and carefree time for children, but for many families in Ohio, summer is when food budgets are stretched thin and children are at a greater risk of experiencing hunger. When school gets out for summer vacation, many children lose access to meals they receive during the school year. What can you do to help?

When children are out of school for the summer, nearly 90 percent of them have limited access (or none at all) to the free or reduced price meals they receive at school during the school year. This means that children may be at even greater risk for hunger during the summer months. It’s hard for kids to be kids when they’re hungry. Get involved and help make this a Hunger Free Summer.

When The Motherhood asked me to team up with the ConAgra Foods Foundation to introduce their Hunger-Free Summer campaign, I was honored. I’m thankful that there are programs and companies trying to make sure that not one child goes hungry this summer. The Conagra Foundation is continuing to raise awareness of child hunger and ending summer time child hunger.

This year, 26 food banks in 18 states are receiving Hunger Free Summer Grants, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. ConAgra Foods and Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks, created the Hunger Free Summer program in 2009, to help ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals year round — especially when school is out.

Half of ConAgra Foods Foundation’s $10 million commitment to Feeding America is dedicated to the Hunger Free Summer program to supplement and expand the base of existing summer feeding programs for children. The funding from Hunger Free Summer grants enables non-profits to overcome barriers that stand between kids getting the nutritious food they need, by expanding summer programs to feed more meals to more children. The program—now in its fifth year—has supported the delivery of more than 3.8 million meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger over the summer.

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lunch time

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There are a lot of things you can do to get active and help fight child hunger. I visited the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland and volunteered during their lunch period. I helped serve food to around 120 kids that were there to get a warm meal. The Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland receives their food from The Greater Cleveland Food Bank which receives Hunger Free Summer Grants.

Feeding Site Location:
Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland / Broadway Club
6114 Broadway Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44127

I was greeted that day by Karen Ponza, Director of Communications at the Cleveland Food Bank and Gloria Jones from the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland. It was great visiting the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland. Gloria showed me around. She is such a wonderful person, with a really big heart. All the kids loved her. She had a full house there on the day that I visited but everything worked like a well oiled machine. When it was time for lunch, they were serving beef chili, 2 packs of crackers, broccoli and cauliflower, an orange and chocolate milk. The meals are delivered the day before from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The Food Bank receives Hunger Free Summer Grants. The kids lined up and Gloria had some of the older children helping serve, I got to help serve that day too. Even though about 120 kids went through the line it happened so fast!

The Boys and Girls Club uses volunteers to help serve food during lunch time.

The Boys and Girls Club uses volunteers to help serve food during lunch time.

Gloria Jones from the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland.

Gloria Jones from the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland.

Gloria and Karen explained how important their meal is at the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland. They serve it every week day at 3:00 pm. Which seems late for lunch but they open at 12:00 pm and go till 5:00 pm. For some kids this is the only hot meal they receive. So serving it at three they hope this can get some kids through the night. There was a little boy there who followed us around prior to lunch because he was hungry. He wasn’t playing with the other kids, he followed Gloria around trying to get a snack. That was sad because there were so many kids around playing but this little boy just wanted to eat. He was hungry. Gloria said this was pretty common with this little boy and he came in most days looking for food.

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The Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland also offers the Back Pack Program. This is a very important program because kids don’t have anywhere to go over the weekend to eat. Backpack food programs provide a bag of nonperishable food to children in need that they can take home and eat when school meal programs are unavailable. These bags are often distributed at the Boys and Girls Club to participating children in plastic or reusable bags as they leave Friday or before a long break.

If you are looking for ways to help:

Volunteer: You can help transport food, help an existing feeding site with lunch preparation and clean-up or do activities with the kids. While providing meals is a top priority, fun activities are important in attracting children to feeding sites. Visit www.feedingamerica.org to find a nearby food bank in need of volunteers.

Both the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank are always in need of volunteers. If you are a local Clevelander get in touch with these guys and offer to help for a day. You will be happy you did and your generosity is helping others.

Make a Donation: This programs cost money but any little bit can help! Please consider donating to keep these programs working for our children. Visit www.feedingamerica.org.

Watch a Video*: YOU can make a huge difference in not one, not two, but THREE children’s lives by liking, sharing, or viewing this video. I think we can all do that! If you would like to do more, Summer is the perfect time to volunteer. You can help end Summer hunger by volunteering at food banks and feeding sites. You can help with clean up and distribution at feeding sites or transportation. Head over to www.feedingamerica.org to find a food site/food bank near you.

*1For every view, like or share of this Kid President video recorded on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ from May 22, 2014 through July 31, 2014, the ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate 11.1¢, the cost for Feeding America to provide one meal through its network of local food banks. Minimum donation of 10,000 meals ($11,111). Maximum donation of two million meals ($222,000). Valid in U.S. only.

I want to thank Gloria and Karen for visiting with me and being very helpful with answering all my questions that day. I was a pleasure meeting both of you.

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