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"I'm hungry."

"We don't have any food."

When the last bell rings for summer vacation, many kids will wonder where they will get their next meal.

For many families, there's not enough money to put food on the table three times a day, seven days a week.

Who will feed these children?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of them that need fed.

About 24% of Madison County's children have been identified as food insecure, according to the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment.

Fortunately for local children, programs like the one at Tenth Street Elementary School and Anderson Preparatory Academy are helping to feed hungry kids by offering meal programs and food pantries.

"Hunger can happen in any home," said Jennifer Tanksley, social worker at Tenth Street Elementary School. "It's about learning how to shift resources and meet the needs of the children and to help the families be stronger financially."

The entire student body at Anderson Community Schools receives free lunch.

"We are trying to ease the stress our families, to make it easier for kids to come to school," she said. "It's really met the needs of our families."

In a few weeks, some school systems and other organizations will offer free Summer Food Service programs through the USDA Food Service Program to ensure that students are nourished throughout summer break.

Programs like these are crucial to ensure that kids continue to get the nutrition they need for their growing bodies and minds.

And, to aid these programs, local leaders Rob Spaulding, director of the Christian Center, and Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger are looking for other ways to feed children.

They are looking for ways to implement a similar program locally that made national news recently. Each Friday at an elementary school in Elkhart, kids get backpacks filled with eight frozen take-home meals that carry them through the weekend.

While there are many barriers to overcome, it's a step in the right direction.

"We believe that hunger can be resolved in this county over the next couple of years," Spaulding said.

No child should have to go hungry.

More online

To read related stories, search for "school lunch" at heraldbulletin.com