Across the country and in our community, teachers and school nurses have found that in many instances, Monday morning comes and they are forced to compete against hunger for the attention of their students. More than 18 million children qualify for free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program, the fuel they need to get them through the week.
What happens to these children when they go home over the weekend?
How can a child focus on solving a math problem or learning a new word when he or she is trying to ignore the persistent pangs of hunger?
In the world’s wealthiest nation, no child should grow up hungry. Over the course of a year, more than 16 million children in America cannot count on having enough nutritious food. That’s one in five kids in America today who struggle with hunger. In Oregon 221,000 low-income children receive free or reduced-priced meals. 29% of kids in Oregon struggle with hunger. These aren't just statistics, these are our neighbors. Every time you drive past a schoolyard where there are children present, one in three of those children at our schools do not get enough to eat. It is completely unacceptable. We can come together to make a difference in their lives.
Hungry and homeless children are a reality in our community. When kids come to school on Mondays hungry, they are often listless, agitated and it is difficult for them to focus on learning. Children’s Health Watch states “children who struggle with hunger are likely to be sick more often, to recover from illness more slowly, and to be hospitalized more frequently.” The Harvard School Breakfast Research Summary tells us “children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food to eat tend to have significantly higher levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious.
Our mission for “Food Backpack for Kids” is simple: “Together, no child will go hungry.” Food Backpack for Kids short-term purpose is to provide ready to eat, pre-packaged meals to children at risk for hunger on weekends during the school year. Our long-term purpose is to reap the benefits of these young people as adults giving of themselves back to our community, state, and country.
This program promotes the well being of underprivileged youth and assists struggling families living in Florence and Mapleton. It is often the children that suffer the consequences, and no parent wants to see his or her children go hungry. Collectively we have the opportunity to make a difference that will pay dividends for years to come for people who live in our community and currently need a helping hand. Sending ready to eat food home with the children from school places the food in their hands so they will have three meals on Saturday and three meals on Sunday. The immediate benefit will be young people nourished and ready to learn.
Will you join us in making a difference? "Together, no child will go hungry."
|Serving the communities of Florence and Mapleton, Oregon|