In Cook County, one in five children are food insecure, not knowing when or from where their next meal will come. Hunger among children has lasting effects – increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, headaches, stomachaches, and colds. The number of children in Illinois who qualify for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program has been on the rise, the problem is exacerbated during summer break, when children no longer have access to healthy, free food through school. With increased financial burdens, many families must make tough choices on where to cut expenses in order to put food on the table. In an effort to reduce families’ struggles during these 11-weeks, the Greater Chicago Food Depository administers the Summer Food Service Program in Cook County at over 260 sites, and sends a mobile response – called the Lunch Bus – to 24 sites in underserved areas.
Four minimum-time AmeriCorps members will work on the front lines to fight hunger among children during the summer by distributing meals to children in need. Members will serve Monday through Friday alongside the Food Depository’s volunteer drivers and site coordinators to ensure efficient and meaningful meal delivery. Throughout the term, members must work together on a project of their choosing, and at the end of their AmeriCorps term, they must present their findings.
During their term, members receive a modest living allowance of $4,420, and upon successful completion of the program receive a Segal Education Award in the amount of $1,230. The Segal Education Award can be used to pay qualified education expenses.