Heritage Elementary sends meals home

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LIMA — Children who rely on schools as a primary source of nutritious meals are at risk of going hungry when schools close for the holidays. So, Heritage Elementary School sent its 400 students home Tuesday with meal kits and sporting equipment to keep kids active and fed during Thanksgiving break.

Each meal kit contained the equivalent of five meals that students would have received had school been in session, as all Heritage Elementary students qualify for free breakfast and lunch through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national school lunch program.

And to keep students active, the Lindy Infante Foundation donated activity bags filled with jump ropes, soccer balls, at-home drills and other sporting equipment to send home with each child for Thanksgiving break.

Roughly 19% of children in Allen County were considered food insecure in 2019, meaning their families could not consistently provide enough food for a child to live an active, healthy lifestyle, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project.

These families may choose between paying medical bills, utilities, groceries or rent because their earnings are low or inconsistent, but not all families who experience food insecurity qualify for federal nutrition programs.

“We know there’s a need while kids are on break,” said Scott Neely, senior director of government affairs for the Children’s Hunger Alliance, which donated the meals to Lima schools.

Lima schools is planning a similar meal distribution for Unity and Freedom Elementary students ahead of Christmas break in December.

The school district has been partnering with the Children’s Hunger Alliance, an Ohio nonprofit agency founded to alleviate childhood food insecurity, since last school year to provide nutritious snacks and meals for afterschool and summer school programs.

“We wanted to start small and see how it went,” said Carrie Woodruff, food service director for Lima schools.

Heritage Elementary School teachers hand out Thanksgiving break meal kits as students leave class on Tuesday. The meals were donated by the Children’s Hunger Alliance so kids don’t go hungry while school’s out for the holidays.



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