ELKHART — Fewer children will go hungry over spring break this year thanks to a community-wide effort to collect donations for Elkhart Community Schools.
The Elkhart Truth hosted a drive to collect food and clothing Saturday, March 29, at Concord Mall and the nearby Martin's Super Market.
Donations given at the mall were loaded onto a school bus, which was full by the end of the drive at 2 p.m.
With spring break coming up, some students in Elkhart County won't have access to school-provided meals.
Pam Melcher, food service director at Elkhart Community Schools, spent her morning volunteering at Martin's.
"The national school lunch and breakfast program and SNAP program is available for kids during school, but with spring break we don't have that availability, so we thought this would be good," Melcher said.
According to the Indiana Youth Institute, 56.4 percent of children in Elkhart County public schools rely on free or reduced-price lunches. Another study by Feeding America in 2011 found that nearly 25 percent of children living in the county are from households where access to nutritionally adequate food can be uncertain.
Mary Lou Thomas, a former teacher at Waterford Elementary School in Goshen, came to the Concord Mall location with her daughter to donate nutritious snacks.
"I taught school for 27 years and I know how difficult it is when mothers are working and children are home alone. They will eat and get in trouble with too much junk, so we're giving them healthy food," she said.
Additional donations will be accepted at the customer service center at Concord Mall.