|Lunch Bus intern Kersten Kazen distributing meals to children in the South Suburbs.|
I live in the South Suburbs of Chicago and had no idea how much poverty and hunger existed so close to the area I call home.
I am the intern for the South Suburban route of the Greater Chicago Food Depository's Lunch Bus. Every day, a volunteer driver and I make stops in Calumet City, Chicago Heights, and Blue Island neighborhoods, delivering free lunches to children in targeted communities. Living in the South Suburbs, I thought it would be interesting to work this particular route.
Of all the neighborhoods that we visit, I was most surprised at the level of need near King Park, in the Chicago Heights neighborhood, because it is very close to where I live. To get to King Park, we drive past old, closed-down storefronts, dilapidated homes, and messy, overgrown fields.
When we arrive, the park usually looks deserted and empty. Once we pull into the driveway the scene changes. Dozens of kids come running from all corners of the park. The moment I open my door and step outside kids begin to ask if they can help me set up. It’s the same at every one of our seven Lunch Bus stops. The children always want to lend a hand.
Last week, as I was breaking down cardboard boxes at St. Donatus Church in Calumet, some of the site’s regular attendees, Humberto and his sisters, Vanessa and Kimberly, helped me trek across the lot to pick up any left over boxes and throw them away. Rather than retreating to someplace cooler - the sun was directly overhead and beating down on the lot - they chose to stick around later and help me out.
I see a lot of struggling communities on my Lunch Bus route, but I also see hundreds of happy and appreciative faces. I am really touched by how so many of the children we serve are eager to help me out.
Lunch Bus intern Kertsen Kazen is currently a student at the University of Chicago where she is majoring in Economics.
For more information on the Food Depository's children's programs, visit chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.