For some kids, dinnertime doesn't happen during summertime.
Food insecurity is a reality for many children in the La Crosse community, especially when school's out for the summer.
But a new grant will allow the La Crosse Area Family YMCA to feed kids thousands more meals this summer.
"Children, without these programs, may not be able to eat," said La Crosse Area Family YMCA Child Care Operations Director Jennie Melde. “We want them to go home with full bellies.
The YMCA calls it a “super snack,” which is a cold dinner they provide during the school year.
"Instead of calling it a supper, we call it a super snack because all of the items -- they're not cooked, they're not warm, but they still have all the components that you need in order to call it a supper. So we serve protein, a whole grain item, a fruit, a vegetable and then milk at every super snack,” said Melde.
Until now, the Y didn't have the funding to provide those much-needed dinners during the summer.
But thanks to a new $50,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation, the Y can now provide those meals year-round.
The meals go to kids enrolled in two of their 10 summer program locations. Those two sites have the most families in need -- Logan Middle School and Harry Spence Elementary.
"The Y alone serves over 40,000 meals this summer. And so we know that families highly depend on us, just the phone calls we get. We have families every day who are saying, 'I don't know what to do, and do you include meals? Because that's going to be helpful to us,'" said Melde.
"Food is a big problem for people," said Dawn Kay, who provides free financial counseling to needy families through Catholic Charities of La Crosse.
So far this month, Catholic Charities has helped 50 people figure out their financial priorities.
“A lot of times when I talk to people about their priorities, they say, 'I pay all my bills and whatever's left at the end of the month, that's what I use for food,’” said Kay. “I think we need to do food first."
Kay said shelter should come first; people should pay their rents and mortgages before anything else. Next comes food and clothing. She said the third priority should be paying bills.
To learn more about the YMCA's summer programs, head to their website. The Y does not turn anyone away because of their ability to pay.