The leader of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana said she was shocked to see the number of local children facing food insecurity charted in the Map of Meal Gap 2014 study.
According to the national analysis done by Feeding America, there are 34,190 children in Lake and Porter counties who have limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
Arleen Peterson, executive director of the food bank, referred to the figure as "disturbing." Peterson said children are the "most vulnerable people."
The food bank has many programs in place to provide food assistance to children, including its BackPack program.
Through the program, meals are provided to children during occasions in which other resources aren't available, including weekends and school vacations.
Peterson said she is pushing to reach more children through the BackPack program by targeting schools where there are a large number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches.
Peterson said another way to provide more food assistance to children is by partnering with some Northwest Indiana after-school programs providing educational services.
Through partnerships, the food bank could provide snacks for children attending the programs. It's possible the organization also could distribute meals children can bring home with them, Peterson said.
If the food bank is unable to reach children through the BackPack program, the organization potentially could reach others needing food assistance from the partnerships, Peterson said.
She said there are many ways people can help those facing hunger issues.
Monetary and food donations are accepted at the food bank. Volunteers always are needed there, Peterson said.
She said The Times Care and Share Food Drive, which kicks off May 1, sets out to collect enough donations to provide 1,000 boxes of food children will bring home for the summer.
Visit www.foodbanknwi.org or call (219) 980-1777 for information about food bank programs and ways to help.