Original Source - Palm Beach Post
They do it because they recognize the need.
On June 27, organizers hope to pack 3,000 meals for families suffering what these days is often called “food insufficiency,” but basically comes down to not enough to eat. It’s a problem that most of us – fed well daily, perhaps even obese as a result – are fortunate not to have. It’s troublesome that it persists in the richest country in the world, and in communities as wealthy as Palm Beach County.
But it’s a particular problem this time of the year. What may be the only meal of the day for far too many youngsters – given that 57 percent of students in Palm Beach County qualify for free and reduced price meals in their school cafeteria – may not be an option with school out for summer.
It’s why the county school district is offering its Summer Food Service program, why the county is collaborating with the United Way on a Community-wide Hunger Relief Plan, and why the schools are partnering with the Palm Beach County Food Bank, an umbrella organization which receives and distributes food to more than 65 agencies in the county.
It’s also why in the absence of political will or societal conscience to resolve the unacceptable disparity that permeates our culture, it is critical that others of us do what we can. So it is heartening that the 3,000 meals to be packaged later this month are in addition to 13,000 already assembled in the last couple of years by the Social Action Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches, in North Palm Beach. Many of the children receiving the food support live in the Glades area.
“Students who have daily nutritious meals learn better, behave better, stay in school longer and are more likely to graduate from high school,” said Bob Ashmore, a retired Ph.D. psychologist and one of the effort’s coordinators. “There is no indication that food insufficiency is abating, and the reverse seems to be true. Hunger and malnutrition are increasing.”
Elsewhere, people are going to unimaginable lengths, doing things they shouldn’t, or shouldn’t have to. Denver school kitchen manager Della Curry became a celebrity earlier this month, claiming she was fired for knowingly violating school district rules by giving free lunches to needy students who didn’t financially qualify. Her school district has since insisted she was fired over other issues. The case not only underscores the need. It shows the lengths to which some will go in meeting needs of which too many of us are unaware, or worse, choose to ignore.
Because more is needed, there’s good news in the Summer Food Service program offered by the Palm Beach County School District. It will provide free weekday meals during summer vacation to children between the ages of 5 and 18 years — even if they are not attending summer school or camp. The district will do this at 118 schools until Aug. 5. To find a site visit http://ow.ly/NWbWu or call 211.
The fact that such challenging hunger can happen here is a shame. But until we can find the solution to this problem, the least we can do is support efforts such as these, and challenge others in the community to participate by donating time, food and caring.