Carmel Summer Meals Program Needs Your Help to Feed Carmel Children in Need

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May/June 2024

The Carmel Summer Meals Program urgently needs your support to feed children in our community. As the school year ends, many children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches face food insecurity during the summer months.

This vital program provides nutritious meals to ensure no child goes hungry while school is out. Your assistance can make a significant difference in the lives of Carmel’s children, helping to provide the nourishment they need to thrive. Join us in supporting this essential initiative to ensure every child in Carmel has access to healthy meals this summer.

Carmel Summer Meals Program

Strong Communities Thrive with Healthy Members

The Merciful HELP Center invites families in need to register for the Carmel Summer Meals program, which provides FREE food to children who qualify for free or reduced lunches in the 2023-24 school year. The goal of Carmel Summer Meals is to supplement food budgets by providing children under the age of 18 who attend school in the Carmel Clay Schools district or a private school located in Carmel with similar items to what they would normally receive for free during the school year for breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks. Carmel students who are 18 but have not graduated high school are also eligible for this program.

Jayne Slaton, the executive director of Merciful HELP Center, shared a few enlightening facts about the needs throughout the Carmel community.

  • The 2023 impact report for Carmel Summer Meals states that the program helped 517 children last year and already has 535 children [at the time of publishing] registered for this year. Slaton is projecting a number to be close to 600 children per week.
  • Meeting the special needs of children with allergies cost us an additional $5,800 last summer. Allergen-free foods are pricey.
  • There is a link to give specifically to this program. All gifts are tax-deductible.
  • Merciful HELP needs a minimum of $85,000 to complete this program. This is with the Merciful HELP Center paying for 20 percent of the program out of the general budget, which mainly comes from parishioners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Merciful HELP commits to $20,000 each year, and they need the community of Carmel to provide the rest. Members of the Carmel Teachers’ Association have given over $2,000 from their own pockets.
  • In Carmel, rents have risen by over 20 percent. Much to their dismay, the Clay Township Trustee has to reduce their support to Carmel Summer Meals because their rental assistance has increased substantially. When rent costs go up, food insecurity goes up.
  • The Carmel School of Social Workers and Counselors helps us register the children for the summer program. Parents pick up the food from us every week throughout the summer. Disabled families are offered delivery.
Carmel Summer Meals Program

“We do back sacks all [school year], and then we do the Carmel Summer Meals program,” Slaton explained. “It’s all for Carmel kids, and that’s why we’re trying to get support from our [Carmel] community for this program. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and we have two employees. We are volunteer-based and we literally help thousands of people every month. We have a lot of people who are dedicated leaders and volunteers who volunteer here, and that is why our overhead is low compared to other organizations and why most of our dollars that are donated go to food, supplies or whatever the family needs. We do what we can to take care of our children and our community.”

The need for volunteers is endless. Slaton is asking community members to sign up and volunteer to assemble the summer meals’ back sacks and assist at the Merciful HELP Center’s food pantry.

Slaton added, “It’s a community effort, this place, and we need people to love each other through this economy.”

For more information on the Merciful HELP Center and the Summer Meals Program, visit

Donations: Checks can be made payable to “Merciful HELP Center”

1045 West 146th St., Suite A

Carmel, IN 46032

Visit the site to give a tax-deductible donation:

Food will be distributed by the Merciful HELP Center every

Wednesday from May 29 to July 17, 2024, at:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

10655 Haverstick Rd., Carmel, IN 46033

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Carmel Summer Meals Program