An effort kicks off today to fill the gap for children whose access to free and reduced-cost lunch programs ends with the school year.
The Summer Care & Share Food Drive from today through May 31 hopes to send hundreds of children in need home for the summer with a Share Box of food.
The Times Media Co. has partnered with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana in seeking donations of food or funds to help fill Share Boxes.
Needed for the boxes are dry cereal, oatmeal, canned fruits and vegetables, macaroni and cheese mixes or other boxed dinners, pasta, spaghetti or pasta sauce in jars or cans, canned beef stew or tuna and jars of peanut butter or jelly.
The grocery items can be dropped off at The Times Media Co. offices in Munster, Crown Point, Portage or Valparaiso, or at any Strack & Van Til, Ultra Foods or Town & Country grocery store locations.
The idea for the drive was conceived by Lisa Daugherty, The Times Media Co. advertising director, who presented it to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana a year and a half ago.
"The Times wanted to do something significant to help feed kids in the region," Daugherty said. Almost 47,000 children in Northwest Indiana qualify for free or reduced-price lunches through their schools.
"But when the school year ends, the kids lose access to that food," Daugherty said. "Our hope is to fill that gap."
All cash donations to the drive will go to supplying food for children, Daugherty said. "The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana can stretch every dollar with the access it has to various suppliers and programs," she said.
Families needing one of the boxes can call the Food Bank to sign up beginning May 13, at (219) 980-1777. Distribution of the Share Boxes is set to begin in mid- to late-June.
For more information, or to download the grocery list or donate food or funds online, go to www.timescareandshare.com.