Summer Feeding Program9:20 AM
One summer when I was 14, my parents allowed me, my sisters and one of my best friend to spend a month away from home. We went down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi...my father's hometown and stayed with his cousin, an older woman with a son my age. We had spent each year as a family going there to visit for Spring Break and always had the best of times. When my parents asked if we wanted to spend a month there for summer, that was a sure no brainer. After all, my cousin, Eric, was so cool. He had introduced us to G.L.O.W. (Anyone remember Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling? Hilarious!) and his neighborhood was different from any I had seen. It was the first time I actually saw people living in shotgun houses or in houses that were falling apart. A big contrast from the life I was living at home where my dad made everything comfortable for us being that he was a thriving doctor. Life in Hattiesburg was different. Right smack dab in the middle of this bustling city that was larger than my hometown, houses were crumbling and people lived in them because it was all they had or could afford.
That summer was an eye opener for me, in more ways than one but what really stood out for me and what I remember most was going to the Summer Feeding Program. My cousin did not have a lot of money and even though my parents insisted she take money in order to help her out, she refused, saying she would make sure we were taken care of. That summer, we experienced what my cousin Eric and so many other children living in poverty experienced. Parents sending them to summer feeding programs in order to save what little food they did have and to make sure their children received a healthy hot meal.
So each morning, during the week, my cousin and us would all trek to a small school about a mile away and get breakfast. There were so many kids and teens there. At first I was nervous, scared, embarrassed but then I got to know the workers, the people, the kids and I started looking forward to going. Breakfast and lunch, we made sure we were there, along with a line of other children. I learned that some of these kids only had hotdogs with no bread to eat at home and the feeding program was the only place where they could choose chocolate milk or 'white' milk. This program was the only place where they were given a choice of sides, a fruit cup and juice. At home, they did not have these options. Maybe their parents could not afford it, maybe some of their parents did not care...no matter the circumstances, thanks to this program, these children were receiving a nice and healthy meal instead of going hungry.
Cities throughout the United States have places like this. No child should ever have to be hungry when there are resources that they can take advantage of. So I am making this post. You never know who you could be helping by taking the time to point them in the right direction.
While this may not apply to you, it may apply to someone else, or someone you know. The whyhunger.org website has printable flyers you can download and print to pass out. Pass this information along. Share it on your blogs or websites. Tweet it. Pin it. help spread the word that there are places where children can receive breakfast and lunch during the weekdays.
I am thankful for the experience that I got that summer. I saw first hand just how programs like this can help a community in need. It helped me to be more appreciative of what I do have and as a mother, what I am to give to my children.
Please share information about the summer feeding program. You just never know who you could be helping.