By Sandra MacMartin, Public Affairs Specialist, FNS Midwest Region with Guest Author, Wendi R. Huntley, President and CEO, Connecting Kids to Meals
Connecting Kids to Meals, known as CKM, is a nonprofit agency in Toledo, Ohio, that provides healthy meals at no cost to at-risk kids in low-income and underserved areas of Northwest Ohio. With a nearly 20-year history of feeding hungry kids, the critical work of CKM becomes more important every day.
In Lucas County, one of the counties served by CKM, over 60,000 kids qualify for free or reduced school meals, so CKM focuses on times when kids are most vulnerable to hunger like after school or during the summer. As the largest provider of meals to kids during out-of-school time in Northwest Ohio, the agency served over 750,000 nutritious kid meals last year.
CKM utilizes USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs to feed kids. The agency’s flagship program is the Summer Food Service Program, or SFSP, where kids at over 150 partner sites enjoy tasty, kid-friendly meals. “In the summer months, there are times when we serve 6,000 meals a day” says Wendi R. Huntley, CKM President and CEO. CKM’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP, After-School Meal Program boasts 85 program partners where approximately 2,300 meals are served daily. Partner locations include schools, libraries, community centers, after-school programs, summer sites, city pools/parks and other places where kids gather.
Since its beginning, CKM has been recognized for its outstanding impact on the lives of kids including being selected as a 2021 Turnip The Beet Award recipient and winning the 2022 Northwest Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Award for Collaboration. In addition, earlier this year, Huntley was selected by No Kid Hungry to serve as an Out-Of-School Time Meals Champion for 2023. This national cohort is made up of 12 professionals from across the United States who have been exemplary in fighting hunger in their communities through the Summer and After-School Meals Programs. This group will work together to raise awareness about the programs, provide support and expertise to new sponsors, and work to develop and share promising practices to providers across the country.
Thanks, CKM, for the great work you do in changing the lives of hungry kids in your community and for feeding our future.