TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - A recent report from the Ohio Department of Education shows the Toledo Public School District has the highest number of homeless students in the entire state.There are a lot of people working with various programs and shelters to help change that.
The report shows there are about 2,700 homeless students in Toledo Public Schools.The district, along with a number of programs and shelters around the region, work around the clock to make sure the kids get the help they need. And it's a big job.
Connecting Kids to Meals is one of Ohio's biggest summer food programs. The summer program feeds about 6,000 children every day. During the school year, the Toledo-based operation feeds about 1,400 children every day.
While all of the children they feed aren't homeless they are all in need.
The organization does not have any data on the numbers right now, but the goal is to work on collecting that information at some point.
All of the meals are prepared in a brand new state-of-the-art kitchen.
Wendi Huntley is President of the organization, "Our numbers have continued to climb over the last 4-5 years."
Huntley says she knew there were a lot of children in the community without a home, but she was surprised by the enormous number in the report, "I am shocked. I am saddened, the numbers are staggering. However, I am also empowered to say we have got to do something about this as a community."
One of the places Connecting Kids to Meals has partnered with is Family House.The shelter keeps families together in times of need.
Renee Palacios is the Executive Director, "We were not surprised when the numbers came out because we have been doing this for 28 years. We help more than 500 kids every year here at Family House every single year. We work to give them a hand up not a hand out. We work with them on things like life skills to help get them back on their feet and back in the community in about two months."
Palacios says hunger is just one of the problems facing homeless children, "When our kids friends find out about their situation sometimes they turn on them . Then isolation, loneliness, sadness creep in as well as the feeling of not being accepted. These children have a lot of things to deal with."
Palacios say we can all be a part of the solution . She encourages parents to teach children The Golden Rule, which means you treat others the way you want to be treated.
Meantime back in the kitchen, where they help thousands of children every year, Connecting Kids to Meals plans to continue its work with Family House. The goal is also to expand this kind of collaboration to other shelters and programs, "I think if we all band together we can truly make a difference for students who in many ways can't make a difference for themselves. These kids are not in this situation through their own doing. While many of them are with their families, others are all alone."
There are a lot of ways you can help these two organizations with their efforts to help homeless children.
We've posted links to their websites.