Spirit of Giving: Healthy Kids Markets at CPS schools

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, ABC7 Eyewitness News is "Helping Fight Hunger" with its "Spirit of Giving" campaign this week.

One out of every five children in Cook County doesn't know where his or her next meal is coming from. When children don't have enough fruits and vegetables in their diets, they may miss vital nutrients that help them grow and learn. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is trying to fill that gap in several Chicago Public Schools.

Parents don't mind braving the cold to get their share of piles of fresh produce.

"I have four grandkids that come to this school - two families. So they really benefit from all we get," said Luis Santillames, a local grandfather.

At Lloyd Elementary School in the Chicago's Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, the cafeteria becomes a food pantry once a week. Parents said the fruits and vegetables they receive are a tremendous financial help. They also encourage healthy eating.

"Yes, because before I was heavier. Now I lost weight," said Sonia Cordero, a parent.

The Lloyd Elementary food pantry is one of ten dubbed "Healthy Kids Markets" the food depository operates in public schools.

"During the school week, children are often times getting two meals - breakfast and lunch - at school. If parents are struggling, having trouble affording food, sometimes when you go home for the weekend that food isn't necessarily there," said Paul Morello of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

School officials said they need only to look at the numbers to see the impact.

"Knowing today's economy, all those unemployed or very minimum wage families with six or seven kids, it helps a lot. Sixty-five percent of my families having kids here, they are coming and taking the food. That means giving extra food on the table," Mihriba Amin of Lloyd Elementary School.
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