Despite federal and state social service programs, too many children in our community have little or no food on weekends. There are countless reasons for kids to go hungry–homelessness, parents out-of-work, lack of transportation to food banks or food kitchens, or access to kitchen facilities (such as family living in long-term hotel or car). All of these reasons prohibits children from eating regular, nutritious meals over the weekends. These children then return to school on Monday famished, their last meal being their school lunch from the previous Friday.
In November 2006, Rebecca Rund, PTA member, and Brenda Kizor, school counselor, established Fritsch Friends, a pilot program to discreetly and directly provide weekly bags of food for the school’s neediest children. Thanks to the support from our community and incredible volunteers, we have grown into an independent non-profit organization, Food for Thought, Inc.(TM). Today we serve nearly 800 students and distribute over 100,000 meals a year!
Food bags weigh less than five pounds, making them easier for children to carry. The bags are placed in the child’s backpacks in a closed-door meeting, and if the child does not have a backpack we provide one for them.
In our current economy, more and more children are going hungry. Additionally, the issue is becoming so widespread that the U.S. government has coined the phrase “food insecure.” This term refers to people in situations where they regularly and frequently do not know where their next meal is coming from. A new report from the Center for American Progress: Hunger in America, was published on October 5, 2011. This report found dramatic issues related to “food insecure” children:
“Children from food insecure households are more likely than their food secure peers to experience higher rates of various forms of educational problems.They are at least 50 percent more likely to miss days of school (1.6 times), nearly twice as likely to be suspended (1.95 times), and almost 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade (1.44 times). These and related adverse outcomes are linked to an increased likelihood of school failure, including dropping out of school. These outcomes lead to a greater likelihood of limited employability, lessened workforce productivity, poorer judgment and job performance, and $260,000 lower lifetime earnings. Therefore since food insecurity impedes learning and school performance and ultimately lowers productivity and earning potential, hunger exacts a significant monetary cost.”