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School out, summer feeding in

As school draws to a close, many Northland children will miss their regular lunchtime meal. Although it isn't a crisis for some families, those already struggling must depend on charitable feeding programs to ensure their children are fed.

As school draws to a close, many Northland children will miss their regular lunchtime meal. Although it isn't a crisis for some families, those already struggling must depend on charitable feeding programs to ensure their children are fed.
"We will see a 50 percent increase in children attending Kids Café this summer," said Lynetta Martin, manager of Duluth's Kids Café. "When school is out -- and there is no place to find lunch -- our attendance goes up."
Kids Café is one of 56 area programs which experience an increase in demand during the summer months. When school lets out, families already struggling to pay rent, utilities and medical bills depend on such programs to supplement the meals school would normally provide their children.
For nonprofit agencies, the increase means stretching resources to serve even more people in need.
"We do see an increase in distribution during the summer months," said Shaye Moris, executive director of the region's only food bank, Second Harvest Northern Lakes. "When school is out we distribute 30 percent more food to charitable programs assisting in-need children. It really is a growing problem and one we need to address."
Childhood hunger isn't just a local problem. In fact, two-thirds of the children served by the nation's emergency feeding programs participate in the school lunch program, but only 14 percent receive lunch during the summer.
It has become such a critical issue that America's Second Harvest (ASH), Northern Lakes' national affiliate, has dedicated three years of support and resources to fighting childhood hunger. Last week, America's Second Harvest launched year two of a three-year public service campaign designed to raise awareness of childhood hunger.
The campaign not only will bring to light the struggle of America's families but also will show the proactive role ASH is playing in shaping public policy and legislative issues so that "no one will go hungry" in the future.
Moris said that the greatest need for many programs is volunteer support followed by monetary and food donations.
For more information, contact Shaye Moris, executive director, 727-5653, ext. 13. For more information about the Kids Café program or childhood hunger, contact Lynetta Martin, Kids Café manager, at 722-8708 or visit America's Second Harvest Web site at http://www .
secondharvest.org.

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