TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Connecting Kids to Meals is celebrating 15 years of helping children in northwest Ohio who deal with hunger on a daily basis.
In honor of their milestone, the program is hosting a 15-day campaign to bring awareness to the issue.
"Childhood hunger is a consistent issue for our youth. Without consistent nutrition for our youth, they face a higher risk of facing academic, behavioral and health-related issues that can plague them the rest of their lives," said Wendi Huntley, president of Connecting Kids to Meals. "Connecting Kids to Meals provides an immediate solution to childhood hunger by partnering to serve hot health meals to kids during out-of-school time."
Connecting Kids to Meals, formerly known as Feed Lucas County Children, changed its name at the beginning of 2017, but still continues to follow its main goal of ending childhood hunger.
According to Huntley, more than 30,000 kids suffer from hunger in northwest Ohio.
"These are kids that are enrolled at Boys and Girl's Clubs, kids that stop by our libraries and branches that participate in the homework helper program, some kids in our area shelters, kids at community centers and the like. They're your kid's friends on sports teams, church groups and neighbors," Huntley said.
The charity serves Lucas, Williams and Wood Counties where they provide 6,000 meals every day in the summer months.
They have 116 sites and partners that help provide the meals during the summer, and 42 sites during the school year.
"We have been running our summer meal program since we started 15 years ago, and our after-school meal program has only been running 8 years," Huntley said. "Kids that rely on breakfast and lunch in school are the kids that we feed in the summer month, but the reality is there room for opportunity for us to grow our after school program."
The 15-day campaign began on October 13 and continues through October 26.
Each day is devoted to connecting with different organizations to get the word out about the needs of hungry children.
Some of those organizations include the YMCA, Family House, Stars program in Wood County and all four locations of the Boys and Girls Clubs in the area.
Hospital systems are also getting involved.
Connecting Kids with Meals is partnering with St. Luke's Hospital at Boo at the Zoo. They also have a packing event with ProMedica on October 26, the last day of their campaign.
"I think that's important for people to know because it shows that all of the hospital systems recognize that this is an important issue. It's a unique thing to say that we have all of the hospitals joining in this fight," Huntley said.
The organization has provided more than 5 million meals since its inception in 2002.
To join in on community efforts for the 15-day campaign and to help end childhood hunger, visit here.