As seven-year-old Javaniona and three-year-old Funday munch on ham and cheese sandwiches, their great-grandmother Jackline looks on with a big smile on her face.
For eighteen years she has lived two blocks away from Hanover Township’s Astor Avenue Community Center in Hanover Park. For many of those years, she’s shepherded her grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the short walk from her home to the Summer Meal Program provided at the community center.
“When the grandkids come over to see me, I give them a treat by coming up here,” Jackline said. “They go back home and tell their mom and dad that they went out to lunch and had their own box.”
Hanover Township is one of the more than 100 sites that provide Summer Meals sponsored by Northern Illinois Food Bank. On Monday through Friday during the summer, kids from the surrounding community who are at risk of hunger can come to the community center for a free nutritious meal.
Jackline has four great-grandchildren and five grandchildren she occasionally watches when their parents are at work or have a doctor’s appointment. She takes advantage of the Summer Meal Program almost every day, sometimes bringing all nine kids to the community center, which also houses a food pantry Jackline visits twice per month.
“This really helps me out,” Jackline says. “This gets me out of the kitchen, and when the kids get through eating and we go home, they’re ready for naptime. So it works out really well.