“No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” Kevin Heath, CEO More4Kids
Hello SOTGC community,
The summer months bring a lot of excitement to my house, as I am sure it does to countless other homes. It is filled with fun outdoor activities, cookouts, swimming, yard work (for those that see that as relaxing), bike rides, and the list goes on and on. For the younger generations, it is filled with going to the park, fishing, and summer camp, playing hide-n-seek at dusk and capturing fire flies. Along with this, memories are being created and stored in our minds for years to follow.
This is not always the case, for some families their struggles go undetected by the general population. Their summer memories are blinded by needs that imprison any ability to celebrate the season. The struggle they are facing is hunger. Throughout the school year it is easier to manage because of programs that provide meals to their children for free or at a reduced rate. Once summer break starts, these children struggle to eat because their food program operates only when school is in session.
There have been numerous studies that show the benefits of children receiving proper nutrition throughout the day and the positive correlation on their ability to learn. If a child is hungry and lacking nutrition, not only does it inhibit their ability to focus during class time, it also slows their brain development. As a result, children learn slower and have a harder time maintaining the information they are learning. Even over the summer months children need nutrition to help maintain their brain development.
In 2013, the federal school nutrition program aided nearly 31 million students, resulting in more than five billion lunches being served. Take a moment for that to soak in; 31 MILLION students received lunch through our federal school nutrition program. What happens to these children when school is not in session for an extended period of time? Weather events happen and can keep a child home for three, four, five days at a time. In the winter and spring, they are out for a week or longer for Winter and Spring Break. Then when Summer Break hits, the same 31 million students are home for nearly three months with no access to a food nutrition program.
There is an overall impact that hunger will have on the long-term learning and development abilities of these children, even the future of our nation. The younger generations are our future; the decision-makers of policies, lawmakers and leaders. We need to come together to ensure the nutritional needs can be met, even over the summer months. This can be accomplished in many ways by using the simplest of resources and partnering with local charities and faith-based organizations.
Listed are current local or national programs and initiatives that are being leveraged to end childhood hunger:
- Just4Me – Summer food program to help fill the gap when the school Food 4 Thought backpack program ends through the summer months. In one community alone the program has packed 1300 boxes of food, consisting of 17,000 meals, since launching four years ago. (Missouri Democrat, June 2014)
- Summer Lunch Cafe – A local church is sponsoring free lunches throughout the summer for children within it’s community who have limited access to nutritional meals.
- Harvester’s – Monetary donations are collected at local participating grocery stores, such as Price Chopper, to support their No School = No Lunch program.
The needs of children and hunger do not live in other countries, it is happening right on our door steps, and you can help make a difference. Work with your local community to find out where you can help fill a gap. Reach out to local faith-based organizations to see if they have initiatives in place that you can donate to or volunteer your time.
If this post resonated with you, please Tweet, Pin, or share on LinkedIn or Facebook and help spread the message of childhood hunger. Get involved and find out how you can do more in your community or how Bright Futures USA can help. http://www.brightfuturesusa.org/site/default.aspx?PageID=1