COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — More than 400,000 children in Ohio are food insecure, meaning one out of five doesn't know where his or her next meal will come from, according to the Children's Hunger Alliance.
Children's Hunger Alliance is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in Ohio.
It partners with organizations throughout the state to provide nutritious meals to at-risk children who need them most.
"Kids are hungry seven days a week, not just the five when they can depend on their schools," said Judy Mobley, the group's president and CEO. "So we started a program to take care of those needs on Saturday and Sunday."
She said volunteers and staff members help pack the two breakfasts and three dinners into boxes and bags that will help kids get through the weekend.
But Mobley said much more help is needed.
"The statistics lag a little obviously, but we saw during the pandemic the need for food for children and families just skyrocket," Mobley said. "Of course we saw it come back down as there were different programs that were put in place specifically to help with that need. Now that some of those have gone away, we’re seeing it go right back up again."
Barb MacIvor, who volunteers with the organization, said she thinks about the kids who will get the bags of food she helped pack.
"Oh absolutely," she said. "And I know some kids who get them and they’re always excited about what’s in it."
Diane Miller Ryan, a staff member, said the work is satisfying but at the same time sad.
"It’s really a shame," she said. "We’ve done double this year what we did last year. And it’s good that we can do that, but it’s also sad to know that that many more kids actually need this help. I go home every night and I know I helped a kid today. So to me that’s worth everything."
Right now 29 schools are on a waiting list for food.
Mobley said CHA is at maximum capacity right now for warehouse space and staffing, so they're really counting on support from this year's Menu of Hope event on March 1.
This year‘s theme? The power of one.
"We can all make a difference so that’s really good for kids who find themselves, through no fault of their own, living in poverty, and not having enough food," Mobley said.