Inside the sacks are sandwiches, raisins, milk, and a fruit cup or applesauce, depending on the meal a child receives. Also, 13 of the fall meal sites offer an afternoon snack such as pretzels or animal crackers and juice.
“One in four children in Oklahoma will struggle with hunger today,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank. “So many things that people living in poverty have to think about are things that others take for granted. Like having something to eat during fall break.
“A child should never have to worry about whether they will have anything to eat.”
LaTonya Porter's daughter attends programs at the North Side YMCA during some breaks, including last summer. While the meals aren't an issue for her family, she said her daughter told her it was for other children. That's why Porter was excited to hear they would be offering meals.
She said she would have been glad to send extra with her daughter for other children. But Porter is happy the program is providing the well-balanced lunch and healthy snacks for all the children at the North Side YMCA.
“I don't want to see kids go hungry,” she said. “When I heard about this, I thought, ‘Thank God these children will be able to eat.'”
Fuel for busy day
The meal and snack times are part of a busy day. During fall break, children can come to the North Side YMCA from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Activities include playing games inside or outside and field trips Arts and crafts are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Jonathan Teal, the North Side YMCA executive director, said they never hesitated to be a part of the meal program for children during the Oklahoma City School District's fall break. That's in part because of the great response in the summer not only from people in the community but also a few families within the YMCA's programming.
“There are parents who are on scholarships and financial assistance to come to the Y,” Teal said. “And it really helped out some of those families because you know it's the same thing for those families. If school's out, well now they've got to come up with snacks and a lunch to send with their children to come to the Y. This program during those times helps out even families within the Y that really can't afford the extra expense.
“I think there is a need, and I think the programs at breaks will continue to grow.”
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14 sites offer lunches
The sites are open to anyone age 18 or younger weekdays through Oct. 26, according to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.