FLORENCE, Ky. — An organization that’s been feeding hungry kids in northern Kentucky for 10 years is preparing for its busiest summer yet.
Jean Pryor can’t imagine the heartache that would come with not being able to feed her child.
“It just breaks my heart to think that kids don’t have enough food to eat. I don’t handle that very well, so whatever I can do to help,” she said.
Pryor is a central billing office administrator for St. Elizabeth Healthcare. She and other St. Elizabeth workers like Jennifer Zmurk have been donating their time and money to help with Go Pantry’s summer go-box program.
“It really means a lot to me to be involved in this. My kids go to school with other kids that are in need. And they’re hungry, and we’re just glad to make sure they have meals this summer,” Zmurk said.
During the summer, Go Pantry helps fill the gaps for families with kids who depend on free school breakfast and lunch through the school year. Executive Director Laura Dumancic said the nonprofit is now helping kids in 80 schools.
“And I can tell you with 100% confidence, there are kids in every school that are struggling with this real daily challenge of food insecurity,” Dumancic said.
Sadly, the need is greater than ever. Dumancic said demand has grown by 30% this year. Reasons, she said, include SNAP and COVID benefits ending, as well as inflation.
Because of that, St. Elizabeth, which has been Go Pantry’s biggest contributor for most of its 10-year history, is giving its largest donation yet of 4,000 boxes of food. Each box costs about $55 each to fill.
Adding fuel to the volunteers’ fire, individual hospital departments compete to see which can donate the most.
“Yes, and I think my department is going to win this year,” Pryor said.
Besides those 4,000 boxes, Go Pantry has filled an additional 1,500 boxes through grants. The goal is to fill another 1,500 boxes through donations and food drives.
“We believe that this is a God-sized effort. And we are just continually amazed and surprised and delighted at just the support that we get,” Dumancic said.
Zmurk said anyone considering getting involved shouldn’t think twice.
“Sign up. You know, it just makes a really big difference in these kids’ lives,” she said.
Dumancic said the best way to help is to sponsor a go-box, or sign up to volunteer, which can be done by visiting GoPantry.org.