Click here to help children like Ricco and Kakai.
On the first day our summer meal program at Livingston Elementary was open, 13-year-old Ricco came in carrying his 1-year-old baby sister, Kakai. He picked up breakfast, found a seat and fed Kakai while he ate.
Their single mother was going through a tough time and they were living with friends in the neighborhood close to the school. Ricco took on the responsibility of caring for his baby sister – playing with her, making sure she was fed, and changing her diapers.
Later the same day, still carrying Kakai, Ricco went to the gym to play some basketball. He was trying to hold his baby sister and shoot at the same time.
“You can’t do that,” said Shanel, the site coordinator. “Let me hold the baby so you can play.”
After telling her he would just sit out, she convinced him to let her watch Kakai so he could spend some time just being a 13-year-old kid.
After a few weeks of daily attendance, Shanel noticed Ricco was taking extra food from the share table. He confided in her that they had nothing to eat at home. For many children living in poverty, like Ricco and Kakai, this is the reality of their life.
Shanel has seen how the program improves the well-being of at-risk children. “Open site programs that have no enrollment requirements and welcome any child to participate – regardless of their circumstances – give children living in low-income neighborhoods a better chance of survival. These sites provide them with food, keep them off the streets and give them structure with scheduled activities. The children come back day after day because they know it is a safe place and they look forward to receiving healthy meals and participating in the activities provided.”
Throughout the summer, Ricco and Kakai attended daily. On their last day, Ricco told Shanel, “I liked coming here because I knew we would get to eat breakfast and lunch every day. I also liked being able to play with the other kids without having to worry about my sister.” He had tears rolling down his face when he said goodbye. He was grateful not only for the food, but also for the chance to be a kid for a few hours.
This story is heartbreaking, but we know there are many more children, just like Ricco and Kakai, in our communities that need our help. This keeps us continually looking for opportunities to feed more children. I repeat this staggering statistic over and over – more than 500,000 children in our state do not know where their next meal will come from. Now that is truly heartbreaking!
As summer comes to a close and children return to the routine of school, our work feeding Ohio’s food-insecure children doesn’t end. Every gift from our generous donors contributes to the well-being and future of our children. Join us by donating today to make a difference in a child’s life.
President and CEO