The need continues — more than one in four children in Story County is eligible to receive free/reduced lunch. Once summer break starts, these children won’t have access to school-provided meals. Therefore, the need for food at local food pantries is even greater during the summer months. To combat the need, United Way of Story County is holding the ninth annual LIVE UNITED Food Drive from now through May 4.

“Local pantries across the county continue to see an increase in the number of families served,” said Shannon Bardole, UWSC community impact director and food drive coordinator. “The need is there, and we’re asking the community to help.”

Last year, Story County community members helped collect more than 10,600 pounds of food and more than $4,400, which was distributed to 13 local food pantries in Story City, Ames, Cambridge, Colo, Huxley, Maxwell, McCallsburg/Zearing, Nevada and Slater/Sheldahl. Many of the pantries purchase food from the Food Bank of Iowa for as little as 14 cents per pound, which stretches the cash donations even further. The amount of food collected increased by more than 1,000 pounds over the 2015 drive.