JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Free meals provided at school for thousands of area kids in some cases is their only balanced meal for the day. During the summer months some local pantries see a spike in the number of children they serve and a decrease in funding.
A number of programs that are funded through state and local governments do not receive funding during the summer and many school programs are not open. Leading to pantries such as United Community Outreach Ministries stepping up to fill a dangerous void.
Around 600 little ones are expected to walk through UCOM's doors this summer. They'll leave with lunch bags filled with food.
"When the summer came it was like I had to figure out how to have a lunch for my grandchildren," said Angela Chewning.
On a fixed income she walks four blocks from home to UCOM on the Southside with her four grandkids in tow. She calls UCOM's summer lunch program a Godsend.
"We would probably be without food or not have as much on our plates during dinner time than we would regularly have," said Chewning.
UCOM Executive Director, Heather Mauney says they're seeing a 10 percent increase compared to last year when it comes to children in need of food. They'll serve around 3,000 families during the summer months alone.
Chewning says it's the simple pleasures such as fresh fruits and vegetables that she simply can't afford, "They get fresh apples, I don't have apples at home so it really helps out."
Mauney says donors tend to travel during the summer months and helping families in need gets put on the back burner. If you are a family in need or if you would like to help out call UCOM at 904-396-2401.