Between shooting free throws and volleying balls around the gym of Blue Island’s recreation center, kids at Metropolitan Family Services’ summer camp paused their games to refuel with a quick snack. Their mid-morning treat included applesauce, granola bars and Goldfish® crackers. 

Packed by United Way corporate volunteers, these free snacks packs are distributed to teachers, camp coordinators and other youth leaders in the area. They’re provided to prevent kids from going hungry during the summer season, and during after-school sports and clubs when school is in session. Some snack packs even go to school nurses and principals so that they have a snack for hungry students who visit their offices. 

“Sometimes kids are left sitting at school in the afternoons, waiting for their parents to get out of work…and any kids who are in sports have lunch at 10 or 11 a.m. They’re furiously hungry by the end of the day,” said Carol Kusman, a parent liaison with local School District 130 and Blue Island-Robbins Neighborhood Network board member. 

To resolve this, Carol and her colleagues at the Blue Island-Robbins Neighborhood Network, a collaborative of community stakeholders supported by United Way, reached out to our team to request the packs. 

Last month, under the coordination of our corporate engagement team, volunteers from BMO Financial Group and Sikich packaged more than 10,000 packs during two separate service days. 

These Care Projects are a great way for organizations to cultivate team spirit while addressing issues, like food insecurity, facing our region. For each project, United Way facilitates the kit-building, which may include packing snack packs or literacy kits for kids or new mom kits for parents. 

After the snack packs were boxed, the corporate engagement team worked with our community partners to identify groups that could use them. The Blue Island summer camps were a natural fit, especially since campers don’t have school meals to rely on. 

This summer, for more than 15 days, over 50 kids enjoyed the snacks each day between their activities and field trips. 

“The kids love the snacks,” said Rosana Reyes, coordinator of the camp. “They don’t typically bring a snack, and only a few bring any food at all.” 

“The donation of the Snack Packs have been a blessing to our community and the children we serve,” added Kentric Benson, the Neighborhood Network project coordinator. 

If your company is interested in hosting a packing event, we can help! Check out our volunteer services page or contact your United Way relationship manager to learn more.