Why Solving Summer Hunger Matters

Solving Summer Hunger Brings Kids, Families, Communities Together! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

Solving Summer Hunger Brings Kids, Families, Communities Together! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

“Fewer than 4 million kids — or just 18% of those in the school lunch program — are fed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food program. While that’s a record number for the 40-year-old initiative, many advocates and government officials say more needs to be done.

‘In the summer, when those school meals disappear, children find themselves hungry and with few options,’ said Duke Storen, a senior director at Share Our Strength, which aims to end child hunger. ‘It impacts their health and well-being and contributes to learning loss.’ ” 

  Tami Luby, “When School’s Out, Millions of Kids Go Hungry”

It’s a curious thing when you think about it, “summer vacation.”

How can a time of enjoyment, of fun for so many American kids and families, also mark a time of anxiety, insecurity, even malnutrition for millions more American kids and families?

As Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, said, “Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.”

For economic, societal, philanthropic, and other reasons, summer hunger truly reveals how chronic of an issue hunger remains for the wealthiest country in the world. In New Mexico alone, on a year-round basis, more than 136,000 children and 358,000 people overall don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to Map the Meal Gap 2016. Imagine the loss these children and families feel when the support nets of free and reduced-price school meals end for a 2-3 month period.

This is where you, and yes, I’m talking to you and the whole community you’re a part of, can make a difference.

Fortunately, our proactive team here at Roadrunner Food Bank has worked in 2016 thus far with American Home, with the Free Summer Fun Roadshow series, with Walmart, and myriad other corporate & community partners to make hundreds of thousands of meals possible across New Mexico. Still, the reality and arguably the moral imperative remains to close more substantively the 63 million meal gap which Feeding America finds in New Mexico.

“63 million meals,” you might be asking yourself. “That’s insane! How can any one of us make an impact with that high a number?”

By Volunteering, Donating Food, Donating Money, Our Impact Adds Up! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

By Volunteering, Donating Food, Donating Money, Our Impact Adds Up! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

By holding ourselves accountable and working together as a community, we can and we will make an impact in solving summer hunger and hunger year-round:

Yes, one can of food in itself, one 2-hour volunteer shift, one $10 donation won’t solve hunger on its own. Yet, just as we witness each year with Stamp Out Hunger in May, one bag of non-perishable food at a mailbox multiplied over hundreds of thousands of bags has made +200,000 pounds of food, hundreds of thousands of meals possible…just in the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho area alone. So, why not believe the collective power of 2-hour volunteer shifts adding up? Of $10 donations adding up?

As South African Archbishop and civil rights leader Desmond Tutu once wrote, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Never assume an action is too small.

Together, we serve with our network of +440 partner agencies across 16 counties and in cooperation with partner distribution organizations, we collectively serve all 33 New Mexico counties. Our actions put together help past clients like Michael, a veteran who once lived homeless in downtown Albuquerque, secure housing and employment with the New Mexico Veterans Integration Center. Our actions put together continue to help students and their families at Mrs. Vivian Lucero’s Duranes Elementary School via the Childhood Hunger Initiative. Our actions put together will continue to help the 70,000 people we serve statewide each week, from far-flung mobile food pantries in Catron County to assisting walk-in families along the bustle of Broadway Boulevard in downtown Albuquerque and elsewhere statewide.

So, our mission for you this summer is this: Let us solve summer hunger by raining down food, money, and good works across this beautiful state we call the Land of Enchantment. Enchanted and compelled to serve our hungry neighbors. Together, nothing is impossible.

 

Together, Nothing is Impossible in Solving Summer Hunger! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

Together, Nothing is Impossible in Solving Summer Hunger! Photo Courtesy of Sonya Warwick

 

Matthew “Matt” Young is the Communications Coordinator at Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. To comment on this or other blog features, you can comment directly below; call Matthew at (505) 349-8845; or e-mail Matthew at matthew.young@rrfb.org .

 

 



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