Empty bellies a fact of life for 60% of our children



December 1, 2017 - 12:00 AM

This  is the time of year when we make plans to gather around a table, surrounded by family, and give thanks for the many things we have to be grateful for. It is a happy time of year, if you are lucky.
For many, it is the beginning of the most stressful time of year. While some are gathered around tables laden with food and surrounded by family, they are thankful for the small meal in front of them. Many of those people are children. For them, that meager meal is an everyday occurrence.
Sixty percent of school children in our community receive free- or reduced-price lunches. The next time you go into any classroom, the school cafeteria, see a school bus full of children, or watch a school Christmas program, remember that 60 percent of those children live in households where the income is so small that they would not eat lunch if it were not for government assistance. For some the free breakfast and lunch program provides the only meals these children know they’ll eat that day.
No judgement that you can pass on the parents solves this problem for these kids.
Hunger is truly an issue for children in our community. If you can pass blame onto the parents, judge them, and justify this as your reason to not help if you can, shame on you.
Our Iola Food Pantry, for reasons that they justify, allows a family or individual to receive a box of food once every three months. Which is nice if you only have food insecurity issues once every three months. The reality is that household food insecurity is an issue for nearly 40 percent of the population in Allen County. That is every week of each month, 365 days of the year.
To me, the three-month policy was and still is unacceptable. When a little boy at Santa’s Toy Shop told me that all he wanted for Christmas was food in his house, and I learned that others had the same thing listed on their adopt-a-child Christmas lists, I knew something had to change.
After conversations with the local food pantry and the board of Humanity House, we decided to take on the challenge of making our own food pantry. This is one of our concerns for our community. We were approved by the Kansas Food Bank and now have a food pantry that runs five days a week, eight hours a day.
Sometimes we are low and the cupboards are nearly bare. Sometimes we are blessed with donations of food that bring us to tears. Imagine your worry if you have nothing to feed your family. Now imagine that worry if you multiply it times the number of people needing assistance with food in our county. That is the magnitude of worry we feel at Humanity House.
Thank you to those who donate food or funds to our pantry. We also ask that you consider dividing your donation to both the Iola Food Pantry and the Humanity House food pantry. At this time we are helping over 400 people every month keep food on their plates when their funds are gone.
Give many thanks for your blessings and see those around you who are less fortunate.
Kindness matters!

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