Kylee McCumber, 18, of Leominster, Massachusetts, a senior at The Winchendon School, provides weekend meal kits for nearly 500 children in her town and in four nearby towns who otherwise might go hungry when school is not in session, a situation that Kylee herself has experienced. When she was 10, she noticed one morning several children eating breakfast at school, and asked her grandmother why they didn’t eat at home. Her grandmother told her they were food insecure. Kylee had never told anyone that she, too, had also once gone hungry. “When I was younger, my mother had a drug addiction and she often fed that instead of feeding me,” Kylee said. Determined to help other kids experiencing food insecurity, Kylee and her grandmother founded “Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding children who might not get enough to eat on weekends, when they’re not getting meals at school.
Initially, Kylee held two yard sales to raise money to provide food for eight children. She and her grandma installed shelves in their basement to store food, shopped for groceries, packed the kits and delivered them to the school every Friday. But each week, the number of children in need grew, so they recruited volunteers to help and stepped up their fundraising efforts to include online appeals, food drives, “fill-a-truck” events and corporate sponsorships. Today, Kylee’s program feeds children in need at all of her district’s nine schools, as well as at schools in four surrounding towns. “My goal is to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry,” she said. She also has conducted collection drives to provide kids with new backpacks stuffed with school supplies, and with holiday gifts at Christmastime.