Editorials

When children are hungry

Lynn Road Elementary School’s social worker Melissa Plum packs book bags with donated canned food and dry goods in Raleigh. Plum delivers the book bags to students who are part of the Backpack Buddies program. The book bags go home with students who are in need of supplemental food on the weekends.
Lynn Road Elementary School’s social worker Melissa Plum packs book bags with donated canned food and dry goods in Raleigh. Plum delivers the book bags to students who are part of the Backpack Buddies program. The book bags go home with students who are in need of supplemental food on the weekends. jhknight@newsobserver.com

The issue, at least, is being addressed by churches, by county officials, by people of conviction and determination, people of good hearts. They share the shock in the numbers from Wake County schools and from other social service agencies: There are hungry children in our midst. There are, in fact, more than 100,000 children who are said to be “food insecure” by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in the seven-county area it serves.

That means these children don’t have consistent access to “nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy life.” Think about that. It means that children, and parents for that matter, in this area surrounded by plenty, in this capital city where million-dollar houses are going up, in this place with so much abundance, aren’t sure they’re going to have supper on a given night.

So here’s to the Food Bank, to the Catholic Parish Outreach and to Grow Our Kids, three organizations helping to feed these hungry children. And here’s to all the other churches doing their part, and to the individuals, to the parents in schools who see a need and try to answer it themselves, with an extra bag of groceries bought when they go to get their own.

Yes, here’s to them, and here’s to hope, that Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria finds a swelling enthusiasm for his Food Security Working Group, which is going to try to figure out how families can get reliable access to food.

There’s a painful irony, of course, that this problem comes to the fore at the holidays, when abundance is heaped on many tables. But it is a time when kids are home from school, and those without go hungry because they don’t have school breakfasts and lunches to keep them going.

The focus is crystal clear: The children who go hungry on weekends are also hungry on holidays because they don’t have the school food that keeps them going. For them, there must be food. For the minor children, not in school and under the “radar,” there must be food. For lost children, not in school for some reason, without access to social services, there must be food.

Let the Triangle’s leaders, and Raleigh’s leaders, say this will not stand. Form a cooperative. Get the business community to lead the way. The goal is simple: Let no child go hungry at Christmas or at any other time. Period, end of story.

It’s not too late

So many of us will be running frazzled this week, grabbing the last-minute groceries needed to prepare the Christmas morning casserole or mid-day feast. Any thought of the hungry among us right here in the Triangle likely will be fleeting.

And it’s not just children who are hungry. In Wake County, more than 200 people are on the waiting list for Meals on Wheels.

It’s not too late to share your blessings this year. More than 75 percent of North Carolina nonprofits say demand for their services increased this year over last, and the need doesn’t go away when the holiday lights are stored.

When The N&O published its “Triangle Gives” section last month, its online registry of nonprofits seeking help this year had reached 272 groups. Among them, no doubt, anyone could find a cause that ignites some passion and, we hope, some action.

To find a charity that touches your heart, go to nando.com/trianglegives2015.

To help feed hungry schoolchildren over the winter break, these groups, among others, are accepting donations:

▪  Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina at foodbankcenc.org or 919-875-0707

▪  Catholic Parish Outreach at cporaleigh.org or 919-873-0245

▪  Grow Our Kids at growourkids.org or 919-267-6651

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