Heading into summer, more children may face food insecurity. Local orgs can help

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — As students in our region head into summer break, thousands will lose daily access to free and reduced-cost meals. Across Central PA, food banks are working to keep up with the need.

“We see businesses opening back up, we see your neighbor maybe going back to work… but not everybody has that enjoyment yet,” said Mel Curtis, anti-hunger director for the YMCA of Centre County. “Some people have accepted jobs that are lesser paying, a lot of moms have not gone back to work for the mere fact of child care.”

Directors said food insecurity does not mean a family is in poverty. They’re simply facing other, perhaps unexpected, bills.

“It could happen to anybody at any time,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

Many families had to dig into their savings over the past year, and now face another challenge: providing for their children on summer break.

Schools do offer food assistance programs, however, “It’s usually a smaller portion of the students that qualify during the year, it’s been growing over the years but it’s historically a challenge,” said Arthur.

In addition to these programs, local food banks are stepping up.

“We have for the past handful of years, five plus, been giving out supplemental food during school breaks for our families who have children,” said Allayn Beck, executive director of the State College Food Bank.

“In some of the areas, you know, we’re expecting as many as, you know, 50 to 75 kids, which is large for a food site,” said Curtis.

For distributions with the YMCA of Centre County, there will be music, games, and raffles, so the children feel like they’re a part of something bigger.

“You have to make this exciting for the kids to come out,” said Curtis.

All three directors want the community to know the help is out there.

“We just want people to call, to take the step, if you’re worried, or struggling for food,” said Arthur.

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