'Hungry at Home': A WGEM News In-Depth Report - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

'Hungry at Home': A WGEM News In-Depth Report

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Lynn Dickerson and her children arrive home from school. Lynn Dickerson and her children arrive home from school.
Dickerson helps her son unpack his backpack. Dickerson helps her son unpack his backpack.
Students help carry backpacks to classrooms at Monroe Elementary School. Students help carry backpacks to classrooms at Monroe Elementary School.
Dickerson working on her online schooling from home. Dickerson working on her online schooling from home.
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

More than 15 million children living in the United States struggle with hunger according to the USDA, and thousands of students right here at home go to school with empty stomachs.

Thousands of kids are effected by hunger locally. In fact, more than 60 percent of kids in the Quincy Public Schools are on free and reduced lunches.

For Lynn Dickerson, a single mother of three, making dinner for her family is not always easy.

"I work two jobs, come home, take care of three kids and do online schooling," Dickerson said. "There's things people never told me about being a single mom that, 'hey, this is a struggle, you're really going to have to struggle and get through this.'"

Dickerson's two boys, ages 5 and 6, along with her 13-year-old daughter, keep her on her toes.

"I love them to death and they love me, but I'm a parent," Dickerson said. "I have to stay and stick my ground with everything that I say."

This isn't the only family struggling in the Tri-States. In fact, most of the families in the Quincy Public Schools are in similar situations.

"Kids in need are everywhere, but it's an area in Quincy that we need to address," QPS Superintendent Roy Webb said. "60 percent of our kids are at or near the poverty line in our schools."

Webb says they see it in all the schools, but Washington Elementary deals with it the most. Nine out of 10 students qualify for free and reduced price lunches.

"It's a community issue and the whole community is involved in the solution," Webb said.

So what's behind this problem?

The hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, points to a lack of jobs and low-paying jobs. With service industry positions, like fast food and hotel jobs, becoming more common, there often isn't enough money being earned to feed families.

"It's a long road, it's an expensive road," Dickerson said.

Dickerson knows it comes down to jobs and income. That's why she takes online classes, two hours a night in hopes for a better future.

"It's stressful, it's tiring, but when it's all said and done, everybody is happy and healthy, and there isn't so much of a struggle," Dickerson said. 

For Dickerson and thousands of other families there is help through programs like Blessings in a Backpack. Most of the Quincy Public Elementary Schools have this program or one similar to it. 

Kids in need are everywhere, but it's an area in Quincy that we need to address. Sixty percent of our kids are at or near the poverty line in our schools.

They take donated food to feed hungry kids, like Dickerson's, over the weekend.

"If they want that snack that is provided for the backpacks, I can say, 'hey, why don't you go ahead and grab a snack.'" Dickerson said. 

Dickerson is thankful for the help she gets.

"It's hard to imagine what I would do elsewhere, in another town," Dickerson said. "You have to find that assistance."

Dickerson looks forward to getting her degree and being able to fully support her family. She'd also like to eventually be able to help other children.

"You know what, tomorrow will be a better day," Dickerson said. "Keep a routine. It's going to get better. We are going to be fine."

To donate to Blessings in a Backpack, you are asked to call the specific school you would like to donate to, or the QPS District Office. You can find that information HERE.

You can learn more about the national Blessings in a Backpack program HERE.

Links for local resources:

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