Kids may get a summer break, but hunger doesn’t take a vacation.

When school cafeterias are closed over the summer, children from low-income families lose a regular source of one or two meals a day. Families who rely on free and reduced lunch—75 percent of Des Moines Public Schools—suddenly have much higher grocery bills—which can lead to much emptier kitchens.

One in five kids in central Iowa are food-insecure and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

All told, 65,000 central Iowans aren’t getting the food and nutrition they need on a consistent basis.

That’s why United Way of Central Iowa—as part of our 100th year celebration—is organizing a summer food drive to collect protein items for Polk, Dallas and Warren county food pantries, which often face shortages as demand increases and donations drop off over the summer. Protein—an essential nutrient for growing bodies—is sorely needed, since less than 20 percent of donations to food pantries are protein items.

More than 30 businesses, nonprofits and faith-based groups have committed to the Pack a Protein Picnic food drive, July 7-21. It’s not too late to sign up your organization to participate. We’ll provide marketing materials and boxes if you need them. Together, we can collect the protein to help kids power through summer.

TAGS: Health

Erin Drinnin

About The Author: Erin Drinnin

Erin Drinnin is United Way's Community Impact Officer for Health.