The challenges faced by Northwest Indiana's working poor are very real.
Too many families teeter on the edge of a financial brink, risking health and livelihood.
As a result, some of our communities rank among the highest in terms of enrollment in school-provided breakfast and lunch programs, with many children getting some of their only balanced meals this way.
Now that the school year is over, eligible families should know help remains in this regard.
Schools, churches and other community centers in the Region are participating in the 2019 Summer Food Service Program, which offers breakfast, lunch and snacks in some locations for children who need it.
The program seeks to bridge the gap of nutritious meals that otherwise would exist when school free lunch and breakfast programs close down for the summer.
Area food service departments are trying to spread the word.
An estimated 15% of students who rely on free school lunches end up taking advantage of the summer food program, according to the national No Kid Hungry Campaign.
Nearly 250 school and community organizations statewide offer the summer meals, which served nearly 2.7 million meals last year, the Indiana Department of Education reports.
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In Sunday's Times, education reporter Carley Lanich revealed elementary schools throughout Hammond are serving up a rotating menu of beach-themed lunches and other fare this summer.
The Hammond programs are open to any child under the age of 18, regardless of residency or school enrollment.
If you have a hungry child in Illinois or any other Region city or town, Hammond's doors are open for the program, which is funded by the USDA.
Hobart Food Service Director Nancy Smith estimates her school district serves about 800 summer meals per day in its version of the program.
The Hobart program uses three mobile food trucks to bring food to schools and parks during summer months.
Summer student food programs also exist in East Chicago, Gary, Griffith, Lake Station, Merrillville, Whiting, Portage, Valparaiso and Michigan City, among other municipalities.
You can learn more about the hours and locations of summer food programs for kids by texting the word "Food" to 877-877.
Financial struggles are a reality of our Region, but children don't need to go hungry in the process.
Take advantage of this worthy program, or do what you can to spread the word to people who may need it.