One of the nice improvements of our new front market is that families can now shop together. It is heartwarming to watch families receive the food they need, shopping together and deciding together. Since it’s summer, the children often come along now – we have popsicles in the freezer for just this reason. You can’t tell by watching them as they happily fill their baskets, but state and national statistics tell us that 1 out of 4 of these children will not eat regularly or nutritiously, the definition of food insecurity.
Often, children don’t tell us when they’re hungry. But there are signs that are easy to see. School staff witness the sad reality of hungry children every day. They know a child is hungry because he or she rushes to lunch, often lingering with hope for more, they hoard their food or seem listless and unenergetic. Sometimes diabetic children go without mid-day snacks, a dangerous prescription for lethargy or worse. This may come about because of family economics, parents busy working and not organizing meals for their children, or just simply as a result of neglect. But whatever the reason, we as a community must do everything we can to feed our children. The risk of not doing so is obvious and unthinkable.
In 2009, North Kitsap Fishline started a program called Food for Thought. When children were referred by school counselors, they could receive a pack of easy-to-prepare, child-friendly food items enough to last the weekend. They were delivered discretely by school staff so the children could receive their food without embarrassment. The program was an instant success – within 2 years, enrollment was at 188 children, spanning ages of 5 through 18. As impressive as this number is, it is only a fraction of the 2,200 children who are on free/reduced-lunch programs in this School District, an indication of extremely low income and possibly, food insecurity.
This a mandate for our community. We must reach out to every child who suffers from hunger and make sure they have enough food to thrive, to be healthy and to learn. As we enter into a new school year, Fishline will focus on childhood nutrition, improving the pack components to be of the healthiest ingredients and work with the schools to make sure every child who needs our help will receive it. We’d also like to expand our program to include school day snacks, a possibility with your help.
You can support this program by making a donation at one of the links on our sidebar or by writing “Food for Thought” on the notes field of your check. In a program we are introducing, you can be a sponsor, with an opportunity to have an anonymous relationship with a child who will benefit from your concern – our web site has details.
We’re already making great progress toward a community free from want, but we have work ahead and by working together, our progress will continue.