School is out for the summer for most people around the country. For most children that means playing from dawn to dusk, staying up late, sleeping in, going on vacations with their families, lazy days spent by the pool and not having a care or worry in the world. For some children summer is not necessarily a good thing. That is because they will no longer have access to free or low cost meals. This puts them at greater risk of being hungry. It’s hard to have fun and enjoy your summer when all you can focus on is when and where your next meal is coming from.
Twenty one MILLION children receive free or low cost meals during school. That translates in to about one in five children living in food insecure homes. ONE IN FIVE! Statistically speaking if you took your child and four random classmates, one of those five children is living in a food insecure home.
If you follow my blog regularly you probably have read my posts about child hunger, Child Hunger Ends Here and Feeding America. It’s something I feel strongly about. No child should have to go hungry, and no parents should have to stress about not knowing if/when they can feed their child.
If you think food insecure families are only in other countries, you are wrong. Food insecure families are right here in the United States – in your own “backyard”. They could be your co-worker, a child’s classmate or even your neighbor. Just because you have a home and drive a car does not mean you have plenty of food. Sometimes families have no choice but to give up their basic needs – like food – for the sake of being able to have a roof over their head or a car that can take a parent to/from their job.
I live in the suburbs of New York City. We have plenty of million dollar mansions around here. Our local food bank serves up to 70 families food every single day. That might not sound like a lot but I live in a very tiny county. I can literally drive from one end of our county to the other in about 20 minutes (depending on traffic).
I will admit that many years ago when our almost 15 year old son was an infant we had to make a couple of visits to the food bank. Our son needed special formula which was over $200 a case (which lasted about 10 days). Not to mention a lot of medical bills. We could barely afford diapers let alone anything else. My mom came to the rescue many times, but there were a few times I had to stop by the food bank. To look at our family you wouldn’t think we would need to. THANKFULLY it was only temporary.
Sometimes the only decent meal a child gets is at school through one of the various food programs. When school is out for the summer those meals disappear.
I remember my visit to the Feeding America site in Tampa, Florida a few years back. One the walls in one of the hallways were paper plates that were decorated by children. Each child wrote a special message to congress about how much the food programs mean to them. I wish I could find the folder with all of the photos from my visit so I can share more of the plates with readers. Here are a couple that I found in an old post.
My visit to Tampa, which included helping out at a local food bank and a visit to the Feeding America Tampa Bay warehouse, was truly an eye opening experience.
ConAgra Foods is doing their part to help end child hunger with their Child Hunger Ends Here program.
ConAgra Foods has partnered with Feeding America for their Child Hunger Ends Here program. Through their efforts more than 335 million pounds of of food have been collected and used to help feed the hungry as well as $38 million dollars which has gone towards child hunger programs.
ConAgra Foods Foundation wants to help raise awareness of summertime child hunger.
This summer 26 food banks in 18 states will be utilizing Hunger-Free grants, funded by ConAgra Foods Foundation, to expand their summer feeding programs so that more kids can receive healthy meals this summer.
The program’s goal is to reach 25% more children during the summer than before. They are working hard towards reaching that goal. The program is now in it’s fifth year and has helped deliver 3.8 million meals to children in food insecure homes during the summer months.
The only thing a child should worry about during the summer is how to squeeze in as much fun as they can before school starts – not if/when they are going to eat that day.
Please join in the fight against child hunger and help put food on the table for hungry children this summer. There are many ways you can help out.
One way to help is simply by watching a video and helping to spread the word. For every view, like or share of this video (below) the ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate the money to Feeding America equivalent to one meal – up to million meals.¹
This little boy is hysterical. He’s the “Kid President”. He cracks me up. I love his facial expressions. I’d vote for him for president.
In addition please consider volunteering. Volunteers are needed to help transport food, prepare lunches for children, help clean up, sort food or assist with activities for children. You can visit www.FeedingAmerica.org to find a food bank near you. If there isn’t a Feeding America food bank in your area you can always volunteer at another local food bank in your area. If they don’t have a summer program for children perhaps you can help set one up.
You can also visit www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com and click on the “taking action” tab for more information.
Of course donating food and money is always welcome. I wrote a post about what kinds of foods that food pantries need. You can read it here – What Types of Food Donations Do Food Banks Need. You can also call your local food bank and ask if there is anything specific they need.
To find meal sites in your area please call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479).
I plan on having my kids volunteer at a local food bank this summer. Not only does it give them something constructive to do with their time that doesn’t involve TV or their cellphones, I also think it’s a great learning experience. Perhaps they’ll be a bit humbled to realize that there are so many hungry people in our community.
Please consider joining the fight to end child hunger.
*I have partnered with ConAgra Foods Foundation and The Motherhood to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.
1For every view, like or share of this Kid President video recorded on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ from May 22, 2014 through July 31, 2014, the ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate 11.1¢, the cost for Feeding America to provide one meal through its network of local food banks. Minimum donation of 10,000 meals ($11,111). Maximum donation of two million meals ($222,000). Valid in U.S. only.