FLORENCE, Ky. — For many families, it’s easy to take for granted simply having food on the dinner table every night. Others struggle to do just that, and when kids are home from school for the summer, the struggle is amplified.

In Northern Kentucky, health care workers are teaming up with a nonprofit to prevent as many kids as they can from going hungry this summer.

What You Need To Know

  • Students who receive free and reduced lunch at school often struggle with hunger during summer months

  • GO Pantry, which feeds hungry families in Northern Kentucky, says the need for food during the summer has risen over the years

  • The nonprofit’s biggest partner, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, has helped GO Pantry meet over 60% of its goal for food this summer

  • Find out how to sponsor a box of food for a family in need below

GO Pantry has been feeding families in Northern Kentucky for 10 years, and now also does so in southeastern Indiana. 

Executive Director Laura Dumancic said the demand for emergency food support to help get kids through the summer has gone up each year. Thankfully, for GO Pantry and those families, so too has the support the nonprofit receives from its biggest partner, St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“It’s our wish that GO Pantry didn’t have to exist at all, that we could find a way to end poverty in our community. But we know that’s not going to happen,” Dumancic said. “I can tell you with certainty there are kids in every single school that are truly struggling to find food on the days that they’re at home.”

Students who receive free and reduced lunch at school lose that resource during the summer months.

GO Pantry is serving over 50 schools this summer. Those schools will need about 5,000 boxes of food to support over 800 families for six weeks. With the latest haul of donations from St. Elizabeth, the pantry can fill about 3,300 boxes, over 60% of its goal.

Doctors, nurses and other health workers aren’t just donating—they’re helping box the food up at the pantry’s warehouse in Florence.

“Our participation rate was not good at all. So several years ago, I was recruited as a champion by one of our surgeons who is passionate about Go Pantry. That’s how I got involved. And I have since recruited some of my people to help us, too. So it’s a completely large group affair,” said registered nurse Jennifer Jump.

Jump is the Nurse Manager for surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Edgewood campus.

“Being able to pack the boxes and actually participate, you feel like you’re truly making a difference in something really special,” Jump said. “I have three small children, so obviously it hits close to home.”

Dr. Doug Flora said it’s highly competitive between departments to see which can donate the most food, but ultimately it’s the hungry families who win. Flora deals with cancer patients every day, so he sees some of the greatest challenges a family can face up close.

“[Cancer] is the largest cause of bankruptcy in the United States right now. The cost of cancer care has skyrocketed. Most people are destitute within a year or two. And so the very families that we serve, that we’re trying to keep alive and save in the cancer center, are the ones that need this most,” Flora said. “So yeah, it feels very hands on, very visceral for me that we’re doing something that lets me get closer to that, instead of just the medical stuff, and the CAT scans, and the chemotherapy. This feels real.”

Just one box can help feed a family for one week.

Preventing just one kid from going hungry is what GO Pantry set out to do a decade ago. Now, thanks to the help of many people, many more families will have food on the table this summer.

You can sponsor a box for about $50 on GO Pantry’s website.