Despite the fact that I work at a Food Bank, it still amazes me that so many people in America struggle with hunger daily. How can we be one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world, yet people living in America are literally starving? What makes me even more upset is the fact that there are thousands of American children that don’t have access to enough food. It just doesn’t seem right that a child living in “the greatest county in the world” would go to bed hungry. I think about my childhood and how fortunate I was growing up. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was truly very fortunate to have the food I needed to learn and develop properly. It never occurred to me that there were children out there, children just like me, who weren’t getting enough to eat. It wasn’t until I was much older when I realized that hunger was a serious problem in America, not only for the homeless folks living on the streets, but for working families, seniors and children. Unfortunately, for tens of thousands of children living in New Mexico, this realization comes a lot earlier than it did for me. The realization comes much earlier for them because they are the ones who are hungry.
In New Mexico an estimated 30% of children under the age of 18 are living in poverty. That’s more than a quarter of the children in our state. Hunger, of course, is symptom of poverty, which means that means that more than a quarter of our state’s children are going hungry on a regular basis. This doesn’t fare well for the children or for our state. How can expect children growing up in food insecure homes to perform well in school and go on to college? The fact is that hunger experienced in children, especially young children, can have long-term effects that will follow a child into their adult life and beyond. But we are not helpless in this fight against childhood hunger.
At Roadrunner we believe that ALL children living in New Mexico deserve a shot at a decent education and bright future, and our Food for Kid’s program is designed to do just that. The Food for Kids program serves nearly 3,500 students every week at some of the poorest schools in 8 different New Mexico counties. This program provides weekend food to children who do not have enough food to eat when school is out, giving them a chance to break the cycle of poverty. The program not only provides the food needed for the growing minds and bodies of participating children, but eases some of the stress and pain for parents working their tails off tying to provide for their families. Parents like Norma. Norma’s children participate in the Food for Kids program at La Mesa Elementary School. She writes, “I am a single mother of four children who all attend La Mesa. Two of my children receive backpacks every Friday. This program has helped my children and me very much. I work all night and previously I couldn’t rest during the day because I had to cook for them…Economically this food has helped me so much because we now have the basic food and I know that it is nutritious to eat without my supervision. Thank you.”
Sadly, this story is not unique, but as long as programs like Food for Kids exist, we are making progress in the fight against childhood hunger. Right now YOU can be a part of this change by voting daily through your Facebook account. Roadrunner is currently in the running to receive a $45,000 grant to support the Food for Kids program, but we need your votes at the following link: www.rrfb.org/wm. We urge to join the fight against childhood hunger by voting daily and sharing the link with your networks and contacts. Children across the state are counting on you!
Donna Marlow is the Strategic Giving Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.