FOOD ASSISTANCE: Summer Break Stretching Family Budgets

For kids it`s a much needed break, but for low-income families it`s a season that can stretch families’ finances.

The school summer break means one less guaranteed meal.

Last year the Des Moines Salvation Army`s two food pantries served more than 9,000 families. People can pick up a brown bag with about five meals worth of food in it every month.

In the summer even more families come for help, and officials say they can’t do it on their own.

Its popular kettle drive helps pay for this and many other assistance programs. Last year`s kettle drive raised nearly $1.2-million. But as the holiday season wraps up officials say fewer donations come in.

And summer break brings its own challenges for families.

“Children aren`t in school in the summertime,” Kristian Pike said. “There`s always additional pressure on families for food assistance. Utility bills tend to rise in the summer and you don`t have that help and support that you have in the winter time. You also have some parents that can`t work as much in the summer because the children are home and so that puts even greater pressure on family budgets,”

Officials say they accept food and clothing donations, but monetary contributions are preferred.

You can also sponsor a child attending the Salvation Army day camp which starts Monday.