YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The need for food for children in the Valley doesn’t end as the school year does.
Schools have been passing out food since buildings closed, and a new program from Second Harvest Food Bank has been helping by taking food pantries on the road.
With summer break approaching, Second Harvest said they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Second Harvest held a pop-up pantry at East High School on Wednesday.
“There’s still a void. There’s still people that are falling through the cracks, maybe that can’t get to a pantry, so we do pop-up pantries such as this,” said Mike Iberis from Second Harvest.
The organization has held about 40 pop-ups so far and they have many more planned from now until August.
“This is our goal, to get food to more families, more households than we typically get out,” Iberis said.
Second Harvest has served thousands of families in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties since starting the pop-ups in April.
Since then, every mobile pantry has had the same outcome.
“Hundreds of cars in line to get some produce and get some other food stuff that they need. That is typical of the Mahoning Valley, the state of Ohio and I would venture to say probably the country at this point,” Iberis said.
With kids out on summer break, schools across the community aren’t stopping their food giveaways either. School leaders say success comes from nutrition.
“Nutrition has to continue, so quite frankly, when we close our doors for the summer, we know there’s still needs,” said Campbell Superintendent Matthew Bowden.
Those needs will still have to be met with caution because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have to look outside the box right now and we cannot continue business as usual. It’s not the status quo any longer. We look for creative opportunities to best serve our families, to best serve our students and that’s what we’re going to continue to do, and the summer feeding is just one more example of how we’re not going to stop,” Bowden said.
Campbell Schools is just one district in the area taking part in a summer feeding program, under the USDA and Ohio Department of Education.
Click here for Second Harvest’s traveling pantry schedule.