Many of you tuned into #GiveSTL day this year and learned that on May 6th we kicked off our Hunger Free Summer initiative. With Hunger Free Summer, we’re aiming to provide more than 9 million meals to children, families, and seniors in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois this summer. So to everyone who supported the St. Louis Area Foodbank during #GiveSTL, we thank you.

Our decision to use #GiveSTL day to kickoff Hunger Free Summer was strategic. Most schools, whether in the classroom or virtual, are coming to an end this month. That means many families will soon be struggling to provide healthy and nutritious meals to their children that are normally provided by their schools. This, coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is threatening to make summer a very dangerous time for one of our most vulnerable populations – our children. With children representing 31% of those affected by hunger in our region, we are looking to answer the call that thousands of families will have to make.

Summertime should be a time of joy and adventure – when kids can be free to play, learn and enjoy themselves after persevering through a school year filled with uncertainty, change, and new obstacles presented by the pandemic. Our goal – to provide more than 9 million meals to children, families, and seniors across the bi-state region this summer – is our small contribution to helping kids experience freedom from hunger this summer. We hope to alleviate the stress and strain that so many families are experiencing this summer, and replace it with stability – in the form of healthy and nutritious foods.

All families deserve the sense of normalcy and dignity that preparing a good meal for family and friends can provide.

If you close your eyes and think back to your childhood summers, your fondest memories probably had food involved. From picnics with friends to family reunions, food has a way of bringing people together – and giving us a break, and a reason to smile. I think we could all use this right about now.

As you look to make plans with your family and friends this summer – Memorial Day celebrations, fireworks on the 4th of July, or back-yard barbecues just to see people in person again – I hope you enjoy yourselves, have plenty of delicious foods, and create new memories together. And while you are doing so, I also hope you’ll consider how your support can help us ensure every family across the bi-state region has the same opportunities to smile and celebrate around some food this summer. #HungerFreeSummer