Mother of six Champale Anderson already has plenty of mouths to feed. Yet, that hasn’t stopped the St. Louis woman from paying it forward by filling the bellies of dozens of other local kids who might go hungry, if it wasn’t for her free lunch giveaways.
Over the past five years, Anderson, 48, has packed up to 150 free meals each day for the children in her neighborhood. She sets the sack lunches on table outside her North St. Louis home, where eager youths rush to grab an after- school meal after getting off the school bus.
“Sometimes kids will get a bag [and] come back to my house around 7 p.m. because that may be the only meal they have during the day,” Anderson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “They’ll ask for another bag and I say, ‘Of course.’ “
The local mom, who works as a home health provider, said she launched her free meal program after noticing that friends of her kids were always hungry when they came over. So, she began filling brown paper bags with tasty treats, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, crackers, fruit, veggies, cookies and other goodies.
At her food table, called “Champs Tear Drops,” Anderson will sometimes serve turkey sandwiches if she can afford the meat, and she always has a few bologna sandwiches on hand, too. Thanks to help from her own children (aged 8 to 25), she has been able to pack and provide meals for her entire community.
“It makes me proud,” said Anderson, who also interviewed with FOX 2 St. Louis. “My goal is to go to different neighborhoods and give out bags.”
Anderson adores her community and the people in it, describing the area as a “beautiful” one where folks help one another. Some places surrounding it, however, are impoverished and riddled with drugs.
“I know I can’t stop [hard times], but I know I can slow it down just a little bit,” she added, referring to her free meals.
Data from No Kid Hungry shows that more than 12 million children across the U.S. experience food insecurity, meaning their households do not have enough safe, nutritious food for each family member. Studies have shown that kids who don’t eat breakfast, or don’t get enough to eat during the day also tend to perform worse academically, and have behavioral issues.
Anderson also noted that she has an open-door policy during the week for kids in her community, meaning they can knock on her door before or after school and grab a quick bite. She’s even been known to serve breakfast on the go to those who are running late for school in the morning, according to GMA.
A GoFundMe campaign launched for Anderson has already raised more than $56,000 dollars for food and other supplies, far exceeding its initial $1,500 goal.
So what’s her ultimate goal? Anderson said she has dreams of expanding her program and opening a free recreation center for the children in her community.
Watch more in the clip below.