At the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County, the need to recognize our community’s children who struggle with hunger during the summer is important.
While activism during the winter months is at an all-time high, too often we forget about the children who will go without once school is dismissed for the summer. When nearly 300,000 children nationwide are reliant on lunch programs that are either free or reduced, the lack of programs during the summer greatly affects not only the child’s development but also their behavioral functions.
It is proven that nutritional benefits directly correlate behavioral issues. Children become more adept to developing many issues and may lash out during school. According to an article published in TIME Magazine, Recent studies showed the effects of starvation as infants and their behavioral outcomes as an adult. These adults now suffer from more anxiety, are more likely to be less sociable and interested, and more hostile than their well-nourished counterparts. Nearly one in five children struggle with hunger and lack proper nutrition because their families cannot afford healthy food options. This lack of proper nutrition is only amplified in the summer because they are not receiving the school breakfast and lunch programs anymore.
The Community Food Warehouse’s BackPack Program feeds hungry elementary-aged children throughout the school year. This program is a Feeding America program, which individual Feeding America food banks can choose to operate. The CFWMC’s BackPack Program is in eight school districts across Mercer County and provides weekend meals to over 800 children- these children would otherwise go to school hungry on Monday.
The BackPack Program helps to alleviate some of the pressure on the CFWMC’s agencies (this includes soup kitchens, on-site feeding programs, emergency food assistance programs, etc.). However, since the program doesn’t operate during the summer, reliance on our agencies picks up. Food drives and donations become extremely important to those children who relied on free school lunches and the BackPack Program. The overabundance of needy families in the agencies gradually increase as schools let out for the summer and lack of food donations begin to arise.
With the community’s continued support, volunteerism, and donations, CFWMC will continue to develop and grow so that these children will not starve during the summer months and bring more awareness to summer hunger. If you would like more information on how to donate and/or host a food drive, please click on the following link and apply today!