The wheels on the Lunch Wagon are going around for its 4th summer.
In 2017, Melissa Smith thought of this organization after quickly realizing just how many children depended on school-provided lunches.
As a mother five herself, Smith couldn't imagine how other parents feel when they do not know how they'll feed their children. As she was trying to find out if there were any state-funded programs in the summer, Smith and her husband started feeding some of the neighborhood kids from their own home.
"Not having food for a full day or two days...I just can't imagine the trauma and amount of stress that puts on a little person. We put up a sign to let them come eat from 12-1. Some took sack lunches and went home," Smith says.
After a year, and so many donations from the community, the lunch wagon was up and running for the summer of 2018.
Smith adds, "The first year we provided about 8,500-8,600 meals, then the second year it jumped to 12,000."
The program started with just five locations to serve the children of Wabash County. In 2019, The Lunch Wagon was able to expand and reach 9 locations, and provide over 12,000 meals during the 10 weeks of summer.
When the pandemic hit, the Wagon had the opportunity to step in and help families even more. They served for a total of 15 weeks in the summer and the additional weeks that the school system was out and not providing meals.
The program serves different meals 5 days a week in Mt. Carmel, Belmont, and Allendale. Because the need is so high, volunteers serve on holidays as well.
After 4 years, Smith says they have provided over 40,000 meals to children in surrounding counties.
Click here to volunteer or donate to The Lunch Wagon.