The milk cartons are loaded up and ready to be handed out. For counselors at Highland Park in Endwell, it’s a role they take seriously.

“You are going to be or could be the most important and most positive impact on their day, and we spend all summer with them. They look up to all the counselors so it is something that we kind of try to enforce," said David Verrastro, Summer Fun program coordinator.

Dozens of children gather each day, for free breakfast, lunch and activities. It comes at a time when one out of every five kids are facing food insecurity, a number that’s higher than ever before.

It’s something that “No Kid Hungry,” a national campaign aimed at ending childhood hunger, has seen first hand.

“What we saw is families, caregivers who lost their jobs, almost over night. We also found that maybe some of them went back to work but they found themselves underemployed, and what they can move in their budget, they can’t move rent, they can’t move electricity or transportation, but it’s the food budget they have been able to cut,” said Rachel Sabella, No Kid Hungry New York Director.

Because of this, No Kid Hungry has donated $750,000 to summer meal programs across the state with $55,000 coming to the Southern Tier. At Maine-Endwell, it’s helped them bring their program from the school to the community.

“It helps tremendous. We were able to get five Cambro carts for Maine-Endwell school district. This will help ensure that the food has come in at a safe temperature using those carts,” said Jessica Brown, Maine-Endwell Food Services site supervisor.

The decision to bring the program to park was aimed at reaching more kids than ever before. It’s given families an outlet as we approach a post-COVID world.

“We’re able to give them the meals which really helps our with the parents, just now with the price of everything and how everything is more expensive. We’re able to provide it for free right now which is huge for the community,” said Brian McCoy, Maine-Endwell school lunch coordinator.

The grants ranged in size from $2,000 to $120,000, and went to schools, YMCA’s and a variety of community centers.