#ToledoMe: "United We Eat" helps feed hungry kids this summer

Published: Jun. 21, 2019 at 10:17 AM EDT
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Feeding children in need in our community is the mission of Connecting Kids to Meals. United Way is celebrating their "Worldwide Day of Caring" by hosting "United We Eat," because the best meals are shared.

Hundreds of volunteers spent the first day of summer packing 2,000 lunches for hungry kids.

"In our community we have 40% of our kids that live in poverty and so we have a number of those kids, tens of thousands of those kids, that rely on school meals. So, when there is no school many of them don't get access to nutritious foods," said Wendi Huntley, President of Connecting Kids to Meals.

"If you go to school with an empty stomach or if you spend your weekend without something to eat, your health can fall apart on you, your education won't be as meaningful to you, and we know that some families struggle," said Wendy Pestrue, CEO and President of United Way of Greater Toledo.

Connecting Kids to Meals expects to provide 8,000 hot meals every day this summer and the take home aspect of the meal kits is critical.

"Shelf stable fruits, some whole grains and then fun peanut butter and jelly sandwich," said Prestrue.

"When we run our program they have to eat the meals on site. So, this gives us the flexibility to respond to the fact that hunger doesn't stop," said Huntley.

This is the first-ever "United We Eat," but this partnership is longstanding.

"Connecting Kids to Meals is you know an agency that really focuses on children's food insecurity and United Way is always focused on stability and families. So, when we look at the needs around health, financial stability and education, food is pretty integral to that," said Pestrue.

"We couldn't do this alone. So, we rely on our partners location sites so we provide meals for Boys and Girls Clubs, all the libraries, various churches, community centers around the community, the city pools. You name it wherever kids gather that's where we're able to provide the meals," said Huntley.

After packing a kit - volunteers could buy lunch and enjoy live entertainment and games. Toledo's generosity was on display because many felt being part of an effort to keep kids' bellies full was the perfect way to officially kick off the summer.