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Macy kids to benefit from grants

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

Food Finders Food Bank, Inc. is partnering with the Macy Food Pantry to provide free meals for children in the community this summer.

According to Food Finders Food Bank Program Coordinator Courtney Sloan, the program is Food Finders traditional USDA Summer Food Service Program which ensures children receive nutritious and healthy meals throughout summer while the National School Lunch Program is unavailable.

This year, Food Finders is partnering with several organizations across Indiana and has 23 open meal sites in seven counties, including Macy. There are going to be free meals provided for children in the community Monday through Friday beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Macy Community Center located at 155 N Columbia St.

The program serves any child 18 years and younger or anyone over 18 who is enrolled in a state-approved educational program for the mentally or physically disabled. The program is scheduled to run from May 29 through August 3 and families don’t have to worry about the hassle of filling out registration or paperwork.

“Nothing is needed to participate, we don’t even need to know the child’s name,” said Macy Food Pantry Program Director Amy Eckrote.

Last year, Food Finders served nearly 30,000 meals and they’re estimated to serve nearly 35,000 meals this year.

According to Sloan, Food Finders estimates how much food each site is going to use throughout the summer and provides all of the lunches for the entire summer. They also provide milk every week for the children to have with their lunch.

“There’s really no limit to the number of kids we can serve in Macy,” Sloan said.

Eckrote sees the need in the community on a daily basis being the director of the food pantry and she wanted to have a program this summer for families who might struggle with having to provide those extra meals.

“I got to thinking ‘okay what are those kids going to do this summer that are used to having breakfast and lunch during school’,” Eckrote said.

“They’re not receiving those free and reduced priced lunches at school,” Sloan said. “That’s two extra meals a day. That can be a burden on families.”

However, in order to have the program Macy had to first be determined as a high poverty area, Eckrote said. Eckrote made an attempt last year to get the free lunch program to Macy, but North Miami’s free and reduced lunch rates were too low.

“This year the whole town of Macy showed at or below poverty level according to the report,” Eckrote said.

Already the site in Macy has served nearly 90 meals in six days, according to Sloan. Macy Summer Food Service Program Supervisor Layne Riendeau said there’s on average about 20 to 25 children that show up everyday for a meal. Many of them are children from Macy, but Riendeau said she’s also had children from as far as Peru come.

“A lot of the parents especially in Macy don’t have a whole lot of money and it’s good for the kids to have something to eat when their parents might not be able to offer it at home,” Riendeau said.

The program benefits not only children, but families in need of help this summer.

“It can save the parents money by providing one free meal a day to the children,” Eckrote said. “The children are receiving a balanced diet in the shelf stable bag meal and are able to interact with other children during the meal time.”

It is also providing more options for families in a rural area where there aren’t grocery stores within walking distance and helps children be active over summer.

“I think it helps them get out of the house, helps them socialize with peers, and helps them get something to look forward to,” Sloan said.

In addition to the summer food program throughout the week, Eckrote will offer weekend food insecurity bags every Friday for children that want them.

“So Deedsville United Methodist Church and the Cluster group of United Methodist Churches in northern Miami County have stepped up to help fund those bags of food for the summer,” Eckrote said.

Eckrote has several volunteers helping with the program including individuals from Macy Christian Church, North Miami Schools, and Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. However, she is always in need of more volunteers for anyone who would like to help with the program or the food pantry.

“Kids deal with enough,” Eckrote said. “They don’t need to be hungry. They shouldn’t have to be hungry.”