TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - With winter break being longer than usual this year, what are the kids who normally eat their two meals a day at school, supposed to do?
Nonprofit group, Connecting Kids to Meals has a solution.
It is something everyone can all relate to; money can be tight, especially around the holidays. The kids are home from school and, due to the cold, get stuck inside, with nothing better to do than eat the family out of house and home.
The mission of Connecting Kids to Meals is to provide hot, nutritious meals at no cost to children in low-income and undeserved areas.
Coleena Ali, Vice President of Resident Services for the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority was out in the community serving meals Wednesday.
"What are these kids supposed to do? Usually, they have a breakfast or they have a lunch. If they don't have that opportunity, what can we do as two agencies and a partnership that we've developed throughout the years, what can we do for them? So as a result of that conversation, here we are," said Ali.
The nonprofit partners with community locations where kids gather like libraries and community centers. Getting these kids fed, and with food that is nutritious, is vital to both their mental and physical health.
Their highest demand falls when kids are off from school, and having an extended holiday break this year results in a void in care and in empty stomachs.
Wendi Huntley, President of Connecting Kids to Meals is excited to move the operations forward and grow to help as many as they can.
"We wouldn't even be standing here having this conversation last year at this time," said Huntley. "A lot of our partners were closed because when there's a holiday break, they take a holiday break, and so we work diligently to encourage our partners to be considerate of the fact that we have a lot of kids that are hungry in our community. Over 30,000 kids that we know about in our community here."
At Toledo Public Schools, 8 out of 10 students qualify for Free or Reduced Meals during the school year.
Since 2002, the nonprofit has provided over five million meals to kids in northwest Ohio alone. The funding comes largely from the highly regulated FDA, that is on-site, every day, making sure these meals fit their standards.
Tya Kuhn lives in the neighborhood and stopped by with her kids Wednesday to support the program and be a part of this experience.
"The word still needs to get out, you know. We were comfortable today talking with the staff and getting to know them better," said Kuhn.
It was a positive day for them to get to spend family time together and to also enjoy the community center and learn about the other programs that are offered for free within walking distance of their home.
Unfortunately, there is still a gap of about a quarter per meal in what the government pays for and the cost of providing the food.
More information about this organization along with the shocking statistics of those who need helpful programs like this locally, can be found here.