Friday, July 13, 2012

Because 19 million hungry kids is unacceptable...

When school lets out, what happens to the children who were receiving free lunches? If the parents weren't able to provide lunch during the school year, are they suddenly able to provide lunch during the summer?

Most often, the answer is No.

21 million American children participate in some kind of meal assistance program throughout the school year. Only about 2.3 million participate in summertime lunch programs. This leaves approximately 19 million children in America who are food insecure. 19 million children who may not receive a full and nutritious meal throughout the day, for weeks and weeks on end.

That is not acceptable.

Each week, within the Chicago city limits, over 140,000 men, women and children receive food assistance from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Of that number, 37% served are children. That means that nearly Four THOUSAND children every week in the Chicago area alone would be unsure of where their next meal would come from were it not for the amazing coordination skills of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

And folks? It is an AMAZING facility.
Me and Sidney getting an informative tour of the facility.

The staff is dedicated to not only providing healthy food for the Chicago residents in need, but to also further the employment abilities of those who need job experience. "The Chicago's Community Kitchens is a free, 14-week foodservice training program for unemployed and underemployed adults. The program, located at the Food Depository's state of the art industrial kitchen, prepares students to break their personal cycles of poverty through workforce training providing them with a solid foundation in food preparation. Students gain experience while preparing thousands of meals a day for children and older adults served by Food Depository programs."

The food they prepare goes into programs like the Lunch Bus which travels to 15 city sites in Chicago and the South suburbs. Every day, Monday through Friday, any child under 18 can receive a free meal at any of these sites. No child is turned away. For some kids, this may be their only meal all day.

 Could you tell these kids that they couldn't have lunch? That they'll have to go hungry?

They were beautiful, cheerful and grateful children. Happy to receive the nutritious sandwiches, fruit and milk. Their families amazed me: The families were choosing to accept the assistance to ensure that their children were receiving healthy meals, instead of allowing pride to interfere.

That is what parenting is really about, isn't it? Not about how much money we make or proving how strong and capable we are. Parenting is about realizing what our children NEED and doing whatever it takes to get it for them.

You can still help feed more of these hungry faces by downloading a copy of the Hunger Avengers booklet on Facebook. The more downloads and shares, the more meals ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate. You can also contribute directly to the Greater Chicagoland Food Depository right here. Every dollar and every penny counts towards the upkeep of the facility and vehicles, purchasing of fresh produce, eggs and milk, and maintaining the fabulous services. Because as awesome as these programs are, there are still thousands of children in the Chicago area that don't get to fill their stomachs. Either because they are too far from a lunch bus route or a Kids' Cafe or because they are unaware of these programs; thousands of kids in Chicago each day cannot concentrate on anything but that hunger pain.

If your stomach was perpetually empty, what would you resort to in order to fill it? If your child was hungry and you could not find employment, and didn't know about food programs like this, what would you do? 

We have to get the word out.

Will you help spread the word? Will you help fill stop their pain?

Disclaimer: Though I am being compensated by ConAgra Foods to help spread the word about their Hunger-Free Summer campaign, all opinions remain my own.

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