By Judy Berman
The boy fought back tears when we talked. He worried about where his next meal would be coming from during the long holiday weekend.
He’d had no steady address for several weeks after his parents split up.
Our school offers free breakfasts. He, like many other children, was no doubt enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program.
But the uncertainty that weighs on children like him is the nagging thought about the weekends and the long holidays. Where will the food come from?
Hunger in the Land of Plenty? Unthinkable.
Last weekend, that young man was on my mind when I agreed to join my husband, Dave, and his co-worker, Stacey Barchenger, in the “World’s Largest Food Packing Event” in Melbourne, Florida.
There were nearly 3,000 volunteers who helped pack meals for elementary school children to take home over the weekend. It’s part of The Children’s Hunger Project.
It was an opportunity to provide the start of a brand-new day for some child.
Bob Barnes, executive director and co-founder of the nonprofit organization, said the program serves more than a 1,000 children a week in 27 schools in Brevard County.
A few years ago, he said he was stunned to learn from a news report that claimed “17 percent of children nationwide are on the free or reduced-price lunch program.”
Barnes told volunteers there that he’s not going to argue about why this is happening. He just wants to do what he can to end child hunger.
I’ve heard the criticisms: parents or guardians are to blame for not managing money better, or for not having the right priorities for their spending. Or some blame charities for spending money on advertising or huge salaries for their top officials, instead of focusing donations on those it’s intended for.
But it’s the children who are the victims in this.
“The Children’s Hunger Project is driven by the belief that knowledge is power, and only by being attentive and driven in the classroom can children absorb knowledge properly.
“A hungry child is less likely to do either one,” according to its website, http://www.thechildrenshungerproject.org/about-us.html
Check your area to see what is being done to ease child hunger and malnutrition.
We found that the time we spent helping pack boxes of food was well-spent. I just wish that there wasn’t a need for an organization like this.
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Music Video – “Brand New Day” by Joshua Radin – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhUfVcLLvjo
Photo – Child – El gato – Taken June 8, 2012 by Juanedc, Zaragoza, España http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/El_gato_%288293825146%29.jpg/640px-El_gato_%288293825146%29.jpg
Photos from the Children’s Hunger Project in Melbourne, Florida on 2-8-14:
- volunteers packing food trays for needy children – taken by Stacey Barchenger
- volunteers: Stacey Barchenger, Dave Berman and Judy Berman