hungry children, feeding america, free lunch program, povertyTis’ the Season to be Hungry

Many school age children look forward to the Christmas and New Year break. It is a time of celebration and togetherness with family. A time of overindulging in good food for many. However, for children who rely on the free or reduced priced school meals, holiday hunger is a real problem.

The numbers are sobering. Despite being a developed nation, USDA statistics indicate that over 3.1 million household with children in the United States has food security issues in 2016. In all, 16.5 percent of household with children in America have issues with lack of food at some point. Organizations such as Feeding America try to connect donors and volunteers to those who will benefit from access to food.

Children who face hunger are more likely to repeat a grade. Due to malnutrition, such children are at higher risk of falling ill and missing school. Social and behavioral problems are more prevalent. It is amazing that in a country of abundance that waste billions of pounds of food each year, that some of her citizens lack food.

Free Food At School

During the school year, at-risk children normally qualify for free or reduced price meals for breakfast and lunch. USDA has a program that serves free breakfast and lunch to all students at schools with high poverty level.

Some children will have little access to hearty and healthy meals during the holiday season and on weekends.

Bring a Backpack of Food Home

One of our local churches host a year-round “BackPack” program for at-risk children by partnering with local elementary schools. The concept is simple: every child who fills up an application form will get a bag full non-perishable food every Friday during the school year. The contents of this bag is sponsored by the church.

Volunteers purchase food such as cereal, oatmeal, whole grain snacks, canned tuna and peanut butter using funds provided by the church or through fundraisers. Some of the food are donated. I generally try to purchase something to donate every month the program.

Rockstar Finance Community Fund

When I received the email from J.Money about the Community Fund organized by Rockstar Finance, I immediately thought of children struggling with lack of food during the holidays. Initially, the Community Fund was all spoken for. As part of the #actsofkindness chain I started among the Rockstar Finance personal finance bloggers, I decided to donate $100 dollars of my personal funds to the “BackPack” program. A few days later, I received another email stating  there are additional money in the Community Fund for an additional $100 dollars.

I went by the church to make the additional donation with funds from Rockstar Finance Community Fund this week. The volunteers were very touched by the generosity of this online community.

While many of such programs are organized by religious organizations, any group can set up a “BackPack” program in their local community. Check out the Blessings in a Backpack site for more ideas. Reach out to your local school or Headstart program or homeless organization to make a difference today.

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