Friday, August 14, 2015

The 1 in 5: Summer need in the South Suburbs

Five-year-old Sarah enjoys a chicken salad sandwich at the Lansing Public Library Lunch Bus stop.
Debbie Albrecht stood in front of the Lansing Public Library, her eyes toward the street. The Lunch Bus would be arriving soon.

“I know that children and families are genuinely happy to see the Lunch Bus,” she said. “The demographics of this town have really changed. There’s a lot of need in the South Suburbs.”

Debbie is the director of the Lansing Public Library. She sees the need year-round, but it becomes more prevalent during the summer.

“Over half the children in our school system are receiving free or reduced-price meals,” she said.

The Lunch Bus works to fill the gap when school is out. The library is just one of seven stops the Lunch Bus made throughout the South Suburbs this summer, serving more than 200 children per day on average.

Five-year-old Sarah and 3-year-old Christina were among those children most days. Their grandmother, Luz, brought them to the Lansing Public Library stop as often as possible.

“They enjoy the vegetables and the chicken,” she said. “I love the fact that it’s a healthy lunch. That’s really important and it’s a big help.”

Luz, Sarah and Christina made the Lunch Bus part of their daily summer routine.

“This is what we do,” Luz said. “We come out, bring a blanket to put on the grass and relax. We sort of make it a picnic. They get a great meal and then they go in the library.”

Sarah, who is starting kindergarten this year, was candid about her favorite part of coming to the library.

“The food,” she said. “We like the carrots and the string cheese.”

Not far away, another group of children was receiving meals from the Lunch Bus. Their mother, Margo, looked on.

“This really helps my family,” she said. “It’s important.”

Margo is in school to receive a degree in nursing and only has a year left, but she is currently unemployed. She has been bringing her three children to the Lunch Bus off and on all summer.

“It’s a nutritious lunch that I know they’ll like,” she said.

City of Chicago Lunch bus routes continue until September 4. For more information on the Food Depository’s response to summer hunger, or to find summer meals sites near you, visit

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