Chicago-Area Club Steps Up to Feed Children of Federal Employees

ELMHURST, Ill., Jan. 11, 2019  — When paychecks for federal employees don’t come Friday, their kids will still get a nutritious meal at school. The Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst will cover lunch expenses for the kids of any family feeling the pinch of the government shutdown.

The club is prepared donate whatever is needed to make sure every student gets lunch.

“We started this about 10 years ago, during the recession, when we learned kids who didn’t have lunch money were going without lunch,” said Rich Rosenberg of the program the club calls Food for Thought.

A long-time member of the Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst, Rosenberg says, “The circumstances with the government have changed the game. Funds might not be available for lunch money.”  

“The Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst saw a community need and responded, which is just what Kiwanis clubs do,” said Stan Soderstrom, executive director of Kiwanis International. “Kids need Kiwanis to look out for them and help meet their needs.”

Elmhurst is a western suburb of Chicago, near O’Hare International Airport, a busy passenger and freight hub where federal employees work in a variety of roles, such as TSA agents, FAA controllers and cargo inspectors. “We’re 22 miles west of Chicago, with a lot of commuters,” Rosenberg said.  

The Kiwanis club’s annual pancake breakfast raises $9,000 to $12,000 annually to cover the lunch project and other projects that help kids. The project costs $1,500 to $2,000 yearly.

Rosenberg said the school’s social workers help identify children who could benefit from the free lunch. “This in no way replaces federal support or food stamps,” he said. “We just serve kids whose mom or dad may be short for a one reason or another. The kid walks through the lunch line like every other child.”   

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