1 in 6 people in the US face hunger as a reality. In 2011 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children experienced hunger in the US. On average, in Oregon and Clark County, Washington, 270,000 people eat from emergency food boxes per month. 92,000 of those individuals are children.
It is hard to imagine those types of figures being real in the United States. The country people come to try and escape their impoverished homes. Truth be told, hunger is a real problem that the US also has to deal with.
One of the glaring problems that our educational system faces is a nutritional gap. As stated above, 92,000 children face each day not sure when their next meal is going to be. Hunger distracts the mind and limits the person from functioning in top form. Yet, we still expect these children to test well and focus on their school work. Thankfully schools are required to give children, who can’t afford a meal, a free or reduced breakfast and lunch. But what about when school is out for summer break?
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established by congress in 1968 to combatant the hunger children face when school is out for summer. Funding for this program comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is administrated at the state level. The Oregon Department of Education is the administration for the state of Oregon. The sites for SFSP are run by sponsored organizations that apply and go through training given by the state. Sites are run by workers and volunteers to prepare and distribute food to children. Sponsors are reimbursed for each meal they serve and employees are paid by the USDA, these are all incentives to keep the programs running.
In 2010 a bill was signed so that there is no longer any restrictions to the number of sites that private sponsors can make to run SFSP. Yet, even with all this, only 1 in 5 children who rely on schools to provide food get reached through these programs.
Hope isn’t lost though because you, as a community member can help. Visit the link here (www.oregonhunger.org/summer-outreach-materials) to look into ways you can help get the word out or lend a hand towards closing the nutritional gap our state faces. You can donate time, money or food, or even help in spreading the word. Make a difference in some child’s life today!