United Way of Southwest Louisiana to provide weekend food packs this summer

Updated: May. 3, 2019 at 6:11 PM CDT
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SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - For some kids, summer is a time of joy and freedom, but for others it’s a time of need.

In an effort to end child hunger, United Way of Southwest Louisiana is partnering up with the City of Lake Charles to bring back its “United Against Child Hunger Initiative.”

“One in 4 children in Southwest Louisiana are what we call food insecure which means when they go home after school they don’t have access to food, at night or on the weekends," Tami Chrisope, United Way SWLA Marketing & Comm. Director, said.

Five out of 6 children who participate in an in-school lunch program do not receive meals during the summer. Many of these same children go without food on the weekends during school, according to the United Way SWLA website.

Summer can be very difficult for at-risk kids without access to school-lunch programs so Summer Feeding Programs are provided. Weekend feeding is taken up by United Way of Southwest Louisiana by providing the programs with a bag of meals and snacks that administrators can give to each child to take home on Friday.

This year marks 5 years for the program and Chrisope said they’ve been able to provide nearly 20,000 food packs in that time span for local kids.

“What we do with the weekend food packs is when they leave those feeding programs on Friday, they each get a back and it should last them through the weekend," Chrisope said.

Chrisope said summer hunger is something that can have long-term consequences, especially during adolescence.

“If you don’t have access to food when you’re a young child, the chances that you are going to do well once you get to school or as you grow older, it just makes things much more difficult," Chrisope said.

According to the United Way SWLA website, Summer weekend food packs will be distributed to over 20 locations across the 5-parish area as part of the summer feeding program--where any child under the age of 18 can walk in and receive a healthy meal. Summer meals are provided at local sites, such as schools, recreation centers, libraries, YMCAs, churches, and parks for children ages 18 and under. Not only do children stave off hunger as a result of free summer meals, they also benefit from the enrichment activities offered at the vast majority of sites — activities that keep them learning, engaged and better prepared to return to the classroom in the fall.

It’s programs like these that Chrisope said helps bridge poverty lines for the younger generation.

“We are trying to do everything we can in those first early years to get successful children," Chrisope said. "When everyone in the community has what they need and can make good decisions, we all benefit.”

As a result of generous donors and volunteers, United Way was able to send a grand total of 6,200 Weekend Food Packs to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and City of Lake Charles’ Summer Feeding Program sites in 2018.

For a list of items to donate, click here.

If you’d like to donate or even volunteer, click here.

United Way is still taking donations for summer food packs.

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