Thanks to Least of These Food Pantry, Christian County families in need won’t have hungry children this summer. 

The organization kicked off its Summer Healthy Food Initiative May 1. It will provide additional fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein options in addition to the five days of supplemental food offered to clients on a monthly basis, according to a press release. This program was designed to feed kids who normally qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunches at school. 

“While these kids are home from school for the summer, many of them will quickly eat through the normal allotted amount of food for a family before the month is over,” Least Of These Director of Development Kristy Carter said in the release. “For anyone who has or had kids at home during the summer months, keeping them fed is a challenge, so we are trying to help ease the burden while giving them healthy food options for their growing bodies.”

Nixa resident Lorraine has two teenagers. We’ve agreed to leave her last name out of this story. Lorraine is all too familiar with how much they eat. It’s why she’s appreciative of Least Of These’s new program. 

“It helps a lot, because the fruits and vegetables are expensive for them to be able to have something fresh, instead of the frozen preservatives and stuff like that,” Lorraine told the Christian County Headliner News. “They are home all the time in the summer, so it’s being able to not say, ‘Don’t eat too much.’”

Lorraine estimated it would cost her family approximately $200 a month to supply her teenagers’ breakfast and lunch in the summer, though other families wouldn’t spend anything at all. 

“The biggest thing is our families don’t have the money, so many just aren’t buying it,” Carter said. 

It was also important to Least Of These that the foods they provide for kids be healthy. 

“That has been a push—a direction we’ve been going toward anyway,” Carter said. “For example, we no longer give out ramen noodles, because the nutritional value—there’s none. We have switched from Hamburger Helper. Now, we provide flour tortillas and refried beans. We’re pushing dairy, and we’re pushing more proteins and we’re pushing those kinds of things more than just normal, staple fillers.”

The Summer Healthy Food Initiative will provide families with an additional 100 pounds of food each month through August, or as long as Least Of These has the funds available to sustain it, Carter said. She noted the 525 families they serve who have children under the age of 18. Grantors for the program include the Darr Family Foundation, Cardinals Care and Force for Good, or the Mercy Health Foundation. Those who would like to support the initiative can make a monetary donation at http://www.leastofthesefoodpantry.org, or they can text ‘Feeding People’ to (417) 815-2020.

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