Child hunger: A problem that shouldn’t be
I can remember back when my kids were in elementary school and I would join them for lunch in a cafeteria crowded with youngsters.
I remember seeing dozens of young students eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips out of a paper bag while their friends enjoyed a hot meal. I asked the girls why this was and they told me it was because they did not have lunch money. It made me very sad – and angry. Yes, at least they were not going hungry, but it still did not seem right.
The girls began bringing an extra dollar to school each day with their lunch or lunch money. It was to pay for another child’s lunch if they could not.
This was in the days before students received free breakfast and lunch at school. Our governments and school systems do much better now in regards to not letting children go hungry. The problem of child hunger, however, is still very real. According to www.nokidgoeshungry. com, 1 in 6 kids in the U.S. - an estimated 13 million - face hunger every day. As many as 9 million children in the U.S. live in “food insecure” homes. While speaking to members of the Florence West Rotary Club, Help 4 Kids Florence Vice President Allie Walker said she sees the truth in these numbers every week. “It’s alarming, but very real,” said Walker. “There are so many children out there, from elementary school to high school, who don’t know when or if they will eat again until they return to school on Monday.”
Help 4 Kids Florence is doing its part, as are other organizations in Darlington and Chesterfield counties to fight child/student hunger. The nonprofit organization feeds public school children in need in Florence County by providing meals for children on the weekends during the school year.
Thanks to generous donors, Help 4 Kids Florence currently provides meals for approximately 2,000 children in all Florence County public schools and Head Starts. These children will receive bags each weekend. During the summer months, Help 4 Kids continues to provide a bag of food for the weekend to food insecure children by partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs, East Florence Mission, My Brothers Keeper, and various local churches.
Walker said $20 will provide meals for one child for four weekends. For $200, a person can provide a meal for a child for each weekend of the school year.
Help 4 Kids does not know which children receive meals. They receive a number of meals requested by school officials and provide them every Friday. The weekend meals will be bagged by volunteers and delivered to the schools where school personnel discreetly place the meals in book bags.
The food bags will contain nutritious, child-friendly, self-serving foods that are selected using the Feed America guidelines and best practices.
Walker pointed out that donations are always greatly appreciated. Not surprisingly, she said food prices have risen dramatically in the last year.
In 2021, $136,844 was spent on food by the organization. In 2022, approximately the same amount of food cost $280,566.
Food donations are always greatly appreciated. Walker pointed out that cans of Vienna Sausages and packages of Ramen Noodles are used in every bag.
It just so happens that a certain old editor will have a birthday this coming weekend. My age now falls somewhere between 60 and 62. If you’d like to wish him a happy birthday and do something for me, don’t worry about buying me those season tickets to the Chicago Cubs or that new Jeep Wrangler. You’ll make my day if you can make a donation of money, food, or time toto either one of these wonderful organizations.
No child deserves to go hungry. Let’s each of us do our part. That’s my birthday wish. Contact editor Bob Sloan at editor@florence newsjournal.com.