What do you do when school is out and underprivileged children from low-income families no longer have access to cafeteria lunches? Tony P. Siebeneck knew he wasn’t going to do nothing.
In 2002, Siebeneck founded Feed Lucas County Children, Inc. (FLCC) to do his part in eliminating child hunger in his own community.
Feeding the need
According to the last Census results, 18.3 percent of people living in Lucas County fall on or below the poverty level and a recent study, the 2010 County Health Rankings, rated Lucas County the 71st out of just 88 counties in Ohio with the poorest overall health. What contributes to these devastating numbers? High poverty rates, unhealthy activities like drinking and smoking, and low education levels, in youths especially. More than 21,000 children in Lucas County do not have food, let alone healthy food, to get them through the summer, and look forward to school not only for the social interactions and educational stimuli, but also to alleviate their hunger.
Siebeneck’s nonprofit organization, funded by private contributions and government grants, provides hundreds of thousands of hot, fresh, and balanced meals to children under the age of 18. “We’re a quiet group that goes out there and makes it happen,” says Siebeneck. “Our kitchen is 99 percent trans fat free, we steam 80 percent of our food, we have no fryers…and we’re about 90 percent whole wheat and whole grain products and we’re hearing from state and national officials that we’re one of the only organizations of our kind that offers these healthy choice meals.” Starting June 7, the FLCC and its over 260 volunteers starts dishing out good food and good will, continuing until August.
Bountiful programsThe grassroots organization also includes many summer programs to occupy the time and minds of underprivileged kids, and involve them in worth-while activities. “We partner with a number of amazing organizations, including the Toledo Dental Society and their Give Kids a Smile program, the St. Vincent DePaul Society and the Toledo Area Ministries for the Food For All program, and more than 90 other organizations who either donate to or support our cause,” says Siebeneck. “With their collaboration and support, Feed Lucas County Children, Inc has been able to have a huge impact on the future of more children.”
Health classes provided with the help of Mercy Children’s Hospital, tutoring provided by The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, and a number of outreach programs through the Boy Scouts, Toledo Public Schools, the Toeldo-Lucas County Library, the Lucas County Extension Service, local churches and other organizations are all part of Siebeneck’s local movement and mission to eliminate child hunger and improve the lives of those less fortunate. “The economy is not the greatest…but it is even worse for these families,” he says.
In just ten years, the organization has gone from serving seventy-two hundred meals from two sites, to distributing more than one hundred eighty meals each at over ninety sites across the Ohio region, but there’s still more work to be done. “Though we have accomplished a huge deal since we began, there are still more than 16,000 children not yet receiving what we have to offer,” says Siebeneck. “If we could get a little more attention from the county we could get the general public to realize the huge influence we’re having on the social situation of Lucas County.” .
Interested in lending a hand? You can volunteer your time or talent, or choose to make a donation. Go to www.feedlucascountychildren.org, call 419-260-1556, or email Flcc1@hotmail.com for more information. You can also find them on Facebook!