Childhood hunger exists throughout Cook County, in some areas affecting 1 in 2 children.
It’s a need the Greater Chicago Food Depository is addressing, but the Food Depository is just one part of the response.
Casa Central, a social service agency operating in Humboldt Park for the last 60 years, also provides children’s meal programs, including breakfast and lunch at a day care and meals after school for grade school and high school students.
Katrina Vigsnes, Casa Central’s director of nutrition services, knows the need is high in the community.
“In some cases, this could be the only meal these children get in the morning,” she said.
According to Katrina, Casa Central serves approximately 150 children per day. The meals are reimbursed through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is funded by the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.
“I don’t know how we’d do this if CACFP was gone,” Katrina said.
Casa Central follows the required federal nutrition guidelines, but makes sure to put additional emphasis on the nutrition component.
“We find that a lot of the children that come to the program are overweight and obese and the food they’re getting at home probably isn’t the best, it probably isn’t very well-balanced,” Katrina said.
That’s why they provide twice-monthly nutrition activities for the children and also try to include a fresh fruit in every meal.
“Knowing how to cook and understanding what healthy food is are two of the precursors to having a healthy life,” Katrina said.
In September, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is slated to expire, and children’s meal programs across our community could be impacted. It is critically important to protect the Act’s funding for those programs.
To read more stories of the impact of children’s programs, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/1in5.