(CBS) –Summer means no homework and plenty of time to play, but for many local kids it’s also a challenge to find something to eat.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository runs the Lunch Bus, a program that aims to make sure low-income children who get free and reduced price breakfast and lunch at school, have something to eat when school is out.
The program uses three green vans – not actually busses – that collectively make 21 stops in Chicago and the south suburbs each workday serving up prepackaged meals.
About 15 children and their mothers lined up outside of St. Peter’s in Belmont Craigin Monday morning in front of the lunch bus to collect a meal of chicken salad, carrots, an orange, a cheese stick, crackers and chocolate milk.
Tammy, a mother of three who lives in Logan Square, says she doesn’t feel a stigma about accepting the free food for her kids from the Lunch Bus.
“I am not ashamed because if they have resources in Chicago, they have all kinds of free sources, if they are out there I’m not going to let my children starve,” she said.
The Food Depository doesn’t require anyone to prove earnings, but they only hand out food to children 18 and under.
Spokesman Paul Morello says 200,000 kids in Cook County don’t know where their next meal is coming from and while they take advantage of free meals at school, they don’t know what to do in the summer.
“Only one out of every nine kids that use those breakfast and lunches at school are getting summer meals,” said Morello.
That’s why the non-profit is working to boost awareness. Morello says they distribute about 1,000 lunches a day, five times a week.