Food insecurity impacts thousands of children living in the Maho - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Food insecurity impacts thousands of children living in the Mahoning Valley

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - It's an exciting, yet uncertain time for many area students as the end of the school year approaches.

The summer months often are a time many students are left to wonder where their next meal is coming from.

Food insecurity is a problem facing millions of families across the country, including those living in the Mahoning Valley.

"Approximately 15,000 people a week are showing up at one of the soup kitchens or pantries in the three county area that we serve; Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana," said Mike Iberis, Executive Director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

Of those 15,000, 30% are children under the age of 18.

"We've seen a tremendous increase in the number of children that are finding themselves food insecure," Iberis said.

And that is cause for concern, especially as children grow and develop.

Dietitian Kathleen Houk with Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley recommends that families of all income levels plan meals around the foods they already have at home and avoid buying pre-packaged items.

"They cost more than they would if you bought a larger amount, even something like yogurt. You buy all of the individual 4 oz. packs of yogurt. You could buy a bigger container and stretch that out so you get more for you dollar," Houk said.

The Second Harvest Food Bank and its 153 partners are able to provide hot meals and emergency food baskets to people in need. However, donations often drop off during the summer months just as many food programs for children are ending.

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