Child Hunger in America: Anna’s story

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Scraping pennies to try and feed a family

Anna is 10 years old. Her family struggles each day just for the most basic necessities.

Her mom, Julie, says, “Anything we could do to make money, that’s what we did.”

For a while, that meant trying to make a living by “junking.” Julie and her husband would collect anything they could find to sell at the local junkyard — aluminum, copper, metal, cans. It’s hard, backbreaking work.

But when the transmission goes out on your only vehicle, making a living like this is impossible. And when you live in a rural area with no public transportation, so is any other type of work.

Their vehicle died about a year ago. “And if you can’t get out and work, you can’t make money,” says Julie. “So when we are low on food you can’t even buy it because you ain’t got money to buy it.”

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Julie is very handy — she and her husband have even done car repairs to try and make ends meet. But they don’t have the money to buy a transmission and get their own truck working again.

“It’s been really stressful and stuff,” Anna says.

She worries about her family, adding, “Sometimes we get low on food.”

And her older sister, Jennifer, sacrifices like her parents do for Anna and her younger brother, 7-year–old Brian.

Jennifer says, “Sometimes I don’t eat because I want to save food for my brother and sister.”

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Julie loves her children very much. It breaks her heart to know she’s doing everything she can to provide for her family and it’s not enough. Through tears, Julie says:

“It just hurts when you can’t get your kids what they want or anything they need.”

In addition to food, they struggle with household essentials like laundry detergent, toilet paper and toothpaste.

“Yeah, I have to scrape up, sometimes pennies, to get that stuff,” says Julie. “I always get dollar stuff. It’s cheap, but it works.”

“I wish my family had money, food and clothes and things like that.”
— Anna

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This family needs help. Food often comes from the local food pantry — a Feed the Children partner agency. Their clothing comes from what is donated to another social services agency.

You can make a difference for a family that’s struggling

Please give today to help feed hungry children like Anna and Brian.

You’ll provide boxes of food and household essentials — just like what our team was able to deliver to Julie and her family.

Your gift today means food to fill the tummies of hungry boys and girls in poor communities across America.

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DONATE

You can provide food and essentials for hungry children like Anna and Brian!

Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those we serve.

Workplace Giving Recognition: UnitedHealth Group

Written by Rhonda Watson, Director of Workplace Giving

 

Did you know you can double, triple, or even quadruple the size of your workplace giving donation?

By giving at work and asking your employer to match your donation, the amount you give will be maximized and it will have an even greater impact.

Feed the Children would like to thank the employees at UnitedHealth Group for helping us to continue our mission. This past quarter, UnitedHealth Group and its employees raised more than $4,500 to help provide hope and resources for families across the country.

Last year, more than $340,000 was collectively raised by donors who gave through their workplace giving programs. This is because their employers matched their gifts.

Find out if your company has a matching gift program. Assess your eligibility and gain access to detailed corporate giving information about your employer by searching our database of companies with matching gift programs at http://www.feedthechildren.org/workplace-giving/.

We are committed to helping you and we will provide as much information as possible. Such as:

  • Company contact name
  • Contact’s phone and email address
  • Minimum and maximum amount matched
  • Total per employee
  • Gift ratio

If your company isn’t listed in our database, make sure to check with your Human Resources department. Let them know you are interested in learning about their matching gift program.

Again, thank you for all you do to help us create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

 

School Breakfast Program Gives Kids a Healthy Start to their Days

Written by Andrew McNamee, Manager of Public Policy and Caitlin Duncan, Grants Management Specialist

A day at school should be filled with educational challenges and social growth. But for the roughly eight percent of American children living with food insecurity, the day usually begins with hunger. The hunger stalks them throughout their childhoods. It affects their ability to focus and learn, their prospects, even their physical growth. While their friends return from summer break with stories of family vacations, sports practices, and summer camps, food insecure children have no such stories to tell. Instead, they are relieved to be back where free and reduced-price school lunches help them recover from months of inconsistent meals, as well as sometimes feeling like a burden to their family. This is how poverty and related food insecurity psychologically traumatize children for life, and it’s happening on a massive scale. Their chronic hunger affects their education, their social opportunities and sense of self –- even their physical development.

This is why the USDA’s School Breakfast Program (SBP) is so important. Research has found that providing breakfast to students has a positive effect on their academic achievement- but the benefits extend beyond that. Busy parents can get relief in the early morning when they know there is a nutritious, affordable meal available at school. Kids have the freedom to be kids when their bellies are full and they can think about games and lessons instead of where to get their next meal.

However, not all school districts offer breakfast through SBP. The program reimburses states that offer school breakfast, but participation is optional. Moreover, the number of students eating free or reduced-price school breakfasts is often far below the number of eligible students, especially when breakfast is served before the bell and many students have not yet arrived at school.

State-level efforts are underway to change this. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) has proposed a $2 million investment in the state’s school breakfast programs in his 2017-2018 budget proposal. A bill introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature would require schools that have at least 60% of their students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, under the federal National School Lunch Program, to offer their students free breakfast. Feed the Children applauds these changes as a step towards achieving a hunger-free childhood for all children.

Some school districts have made efforts to integrate breakfast service into the school day, including ‘School Breakfast Weeks’ that introduce refreshments and socialization into breakfast programs. Or, instead of serving breakfast before school in a separate room, some districts have introduced food carts that serve students in their classrooms and integrate breakfast into the school day. Feed the Children encourages such innovative efforts to make consistent meals the norm.

Not sure how to get school breakfast started at your local schools? For those who would like to initiate school breakfast or expand on existing programs, the USDA provides a toolkit for parents, educators, administrators, and everyday concerned citizens to assist in this goal, called Energize Your Day with School Breakfast. This toolkit offers suggestions for engaging community stakeholders and for taking concrete action toward bringing nutritious, affordable breakfast to more school-aged children.

Kenyan Election Tests Country’s New Constitution and Our Operations

Written by Andrew McNamee, Manager of Public Policy and Kepha Machira, PR & Communications Officer (Kenya)

Kenyans go to the polls today to elect (or relect) their president, his deputy, members of Parliament, county governors, and ward representatives. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are running for reelection against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, in a rematch of their 2013 contest. The first election held under the new constitution in 2013 was relatively peaceful, but an attack on Ruto’s home by a man with a machete and the torture and murder of the electoral commission’s head IT officer, both in the last month, have generated new fears.

The election is the second held under the constitution approved in 2010, in response to the violence that roiled the country following its 2007 election. The violence following the 2007 election, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands, is something no Kenyan wishes to see repeated. The Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2008 to mediate a political compromise between the conflicting parties. The National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008, which temporarily reestablished the offices of Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers, was the result of this effort.

The importance of stability in Kenya cannot be understated. The country’s economy is growing significantly and diversifying, and is now sub-Saharan Africa’s sixth largest. Its proximity to South Sudan and Somalia, two unstable countries afflicted by famine, makes it pivotal for global security. The country hosts the UN HQ for Africa, the largest U.S. diplomatic mission on the continent, the African operations HQs of many NGOs, and receives significant security assistance from the West. Kenya is an anchor state in a volatile region, but its ethnic conflicts have never been far from the surface.

The ethnic divisions laid bare by the 2007 election violence have roots that run much deeper than the presidential election. Divisions among tribes affect schoolchildren, as children are moved among schools based on the perceived tribe-loyalty of their parents. This has affected schools where Feed the Children operates its programs, and our staff have witnessed significant relocation because of anxiety about potential 2017 election violence. Buses have been transporting Kenyans from urban areas with a high risk of political violence to rural ethnic enclaves.

This relocation is harming the prospects of Kenyan children served by our programs. Although school terms were scheduled to end in August, many parents removed their children from school as early as June. The parents we depend on to implement the Cash to School program have evacuated, and those in Village Savings & Loan groups have left before completion of the cycle.

In response, we have coordinated with other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to prepare for potential violence, and to address the needs of vulnerable populations if violence affects their communities. We seek to prevent any unnecessary loss of life by addressing both the food and non-food needs of the communities we serve in Samburu and Turkana that could be affected.

InterAction Forum 2017: Emphasizing the Need for Accountability, Transparency and Inclusiveness

Written by Anna Rohwer, Director of International Operations & Administration

 

‘United We Stand’ originated from The Liberty Song that was written by John Dickinson during the American Revolution. It’s a simple phase that has lived in different contexts of American history but always means the same thing: we fall when we’re divided, so we must stand united if we hope to stand at all. ‘United We Stand’.

We are living in a critical moment of history. Our world is more interdependent and interconnected now than ever before, yet we are seeing increased polarization across political, cultural and religious ideologies. We have made progress towards addressing poverty and hunger, yet there remains significant need. More than 65 million people have been displaced due to war and persecution—more than at any other time. Millions of people in the horn of Africa are facing a devastating drought. Nearly 3 million children under 5 are still dying from preventable diseases each year, and just 1 in 3 people have access to proper sanitation globally.

The U.S. has always been at the forefront of addressing humanitarian and development challenges, with billions of dollars going each year to foreign assistance. However, the current administration has proposed a significant (31%) reduction to the international aid budget. This has negatively affected organizations like Feed the Children that rely on government funding to address poverty and hunger around the world. Because of this, there is now an urgency for both civil society and the private sector to find opportunities to fill the gap.

IMG_20170620_100126363We had the opportunity to participate in the annual InterAction Forum in Washington, D.C. InterAction is an alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) focused on disaster relief and sustainable development programs. The theme for this year’s forum—United We Stand—was incredibly relevant given the current climate in which NGOs are operating in the U.S. today.

In his keynote address, President Bill Clinton emphasized the need to be unified in our efforts to eliminate global poverty and empower those who are most vulnerable. He shared: “We’ve never had more potential to spread hope through real learning, through real doing.”

The forum provided the opportunity for “real learning.” Themes like accountability and transparency, inclusiveness, human rights, and gender equality were emphasized by Heads of State, activists, entrepreneurs, and other influencers.  We also heard from experts on technical topics like the economic rationale for investing in nutrition (there’s actually evidence that links investment in nutrition to economic development), the human side of technology (in places like Rwanda and Malawi, drones are being used to deliver medicine in remote places), and organizational transformation to achieve cross-sector programming (in order to reach sustainable development goals, organizations need to move away from legacy business models and build integrated systems and programs that actually work).

The forum also provided the opportunity to interact with more than 100 international NGOs that are working around the world, as well as a number of for-profit companies using business solutions to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. Learning about what others are doing was not only inspirational, but it also created opportunities for information sharing and collaboration. ‘United We Stand’ together in the fight to end poverty and hunger.

As we, along with hundreds of other humanitarian organizations, continues to navigate the increasing challenges we are up against, our role in the effort to alleviate poverty and hunger is increasingly relevant and essential. We will continue our work and strengthen our impact, regardless of the increasing challenges, and we are committed more than ever to creating a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

 

Encourage Your State Officials to Address School Lunch Shaming

Written by Caitlin Duncan, Grants Management Specialist

 

Making a show of throwing away a child’s hot lunch.

Making lunch contingent on performing chores in front of peers.

Sending certain children to a designated area for a cold food item.

Writing debt notices on a child’s arm.

Those examples are just some of the lunch shaming tactics that schools have used to pressure parents to repay school meal debt. The premise is that embarrassment will motivate families to pay the money back quickly. While respecting the need of school districts to recoup a sometimes staggering meal debt, we are against such practices as degrading, which can lead to a negative educational environment for children. Not having enough to eat as a child is already a discouraging struggle. Children who deal with chronic hunger should not also have to worry about public shaming when they have an overdue lunch bill.

Our vision is to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry, and in this pursuit, we believe in treating each child and family in the communities we serve with value and respect. Last summer, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees school lunch programs, imposed a July 1, 2017 deadline for states to establish policies on how to treat children who cannot pay for food. We applaud the state of New Mexico for being the first state to outlaw lunch shaming, passing the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act. The law requires schools to deal with parents–not children–regarding meal debt, ends practices meant to embarrass students, instructs schools to provide students with a USDA reimbursable meal regardless of debt, and outlines steps for schools to connect low-income families with available school lunch programs. We enthusiastically encourage state legislators across the country to follow suit and to develop similar policies that defend children’s dignity and promote students’ access to food at school.

To encourage positive changes to your state’s school lunch debt policy, find contact information for your locally elected officials here.

For ideas on what to share with your elected official, refer to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) advocacy toolkit here.

 

“There are times that my family has no food to eat…”

Gerlyn and Nina - Philippines 2017

“There are times that my family has no food to eat, and there are also times that the children get sick, and we don’t have money for medicine or hospitalization.”
– May (Nina & Gerlyn’s mother)

The good news, however, is that because of sponsors just like you, we are implementing programs in Nina and Gerlyn’s community that are greatly improving the lives of the children and families.

Your faithful support is providing feeding programs that provide school meals for the children every school day. It’s a huge relief and blessing for parents to know that their children are getting an education and no longer having to sit in class hungry. The nutritious food they now receive helps them to concentrate and focus better on their studies.

Thank you for making a long-lasting impact that will help families break the cycle of poverty. Sponsors like you are helping implement in this community, the provision of school supplies, TOMS shoes, deworming medication, Vitamin A supplementation, Vitamin supplementation to pregnant and lactating mothers, Village Savings & Loan Groups, livestock provision, homestead gardens, and the installation of a village/community clean water source. Gerlyn and Nina’s family were also one of several families who had a toilet installed—a resource which dramatically improves the health and sanitation of the village and decreases the transmission of disease.

Clean Water Project - Philippines 2017

“I am so grateful for the programs, projects that Feed the Children is implementing in the island … like the provision of school supplies. Every year my children receive school supplies. And then the feeding program, which ensures that my children are going to school every day, because there’s food at school.”
– May (Nina & Gerlyn’s mother)

And we are so grateful for sponsors like you! You are truly changing the world for the better…one child at a time.

There are so many children yet to be sponsored. You can give a gift to help these children, and change the world… one child at a time.

Give Now to Help Children Without Sponsors

Child hunger in America

Tragedy struck on the Fourth of July

Peter hasn’t had much of a childhood. Meeting him and his family broke my heart. Let me share with you what I learned from my time with them.

When he was just 9 years old, a tragedy struck Peter’s family. They went from “doing really well” to struggling to get enough to eat. Not to mention the immense emotional toll on the whole family. (Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those we serve.)

Now, they are trapped in poverty because of this one tragic event:

On July 4, 2012, at a family cookout, Peter told me his dad “was trying to split up a fight.” One of the men involved got in his truck and ran over his dad — twice. Peter’s sister, Rhea, even witnessed the horror — and she was just 11 years old.

“It broke him in half,” explains Peter’s mom, Linda. “He is paralyzed from the waist down.”

Peter’s dad went from working on a farm every day and providing for his family to being confined to a wheelchair, dependent on his family for nearly everything.

Now, this family of four is trying to survive on Linda’s minimum wage income, disability and food stamps. Getting enough to eat is a constant problem — let alone enough nutritious food for two growing teenagers.

“We have to use like beans and taters a lot,” Peter says. “That’s about usually all we got to eat.”

And Peter is having a tough time in school. It’s hard to concentrate in class when he’s hungry. His dream is to join the National Guard so he can “help people.” But he has to get through school first.

“I’m in 7th, supposed to be in 9th,” he says. “I just want it to end.”

Peter and his family are living in poverty — real poverty that many Americans would like to believe doesn’t happen in our country. But it does and it’s heartbreaking to see.

And when the situation is this hard, the kids are very aware of how bad it is.

“We don’t have very much money to be able to get like food and drinks and stuff like that,” Peter shares. “And we have to scrape up the change or wait ‘til my mom gets her paycheck.”

Peter hesitantly admits to me that he has been so hungry that he gets a “big stomachache.” He’s small for his age and looks like he doesn’t get enough nutritious food. Peter also has scoliosis that causes “a lot of pain” at times.

Despite his own challenges, Peter is a very responsible, caring son. He does all he can to help his mom with chores around the house and take care of his dad. Peter worries about him. He says:

“I sleep on the floor because my dad, he’s hurt and in case anything happens, I’ll be right there.”

— Peter

I saw Peter’s bed. It’s a pile of blankets. But he finds the good in it, saying the floor is like a very firm mattress and it helps with his scoliosis pain.

When I asked Peter what he wants most for his family, he told me:

“I wish that we had a little bit more food and a little bit more money. And I wish that my dad could walk again.”

I wish we could help Peter’s dad walk again. But what you and I can do is give them a little more hope for the future by meeting their urgent need for food and other household essentials. Simple items like cereal, canned vegetables, spaghetti and toilet paper can make a big difference for Peter and his family.

You can make a difference for a family trapped in poverty

Please give today to help feed hungry children like Peter and Rhea.

When we gave this family boxes of food and essentials, I’ve never seen the kind of response we got. Peter and Rhea tore into that box of food like it was Christmas morning.

Your gift today can provide food and essentials that will put smiles on the faces of children like these two.

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Donate

You can provide food and essentials for hungry children like Peter and Rhea!

One Dollar at a Time: Fifteen Year Old Raises More than $15,000 to Fight Hometown Hunger

Written by Samaiyah Islam, Communications and Media Relations

When you ask Peyton Olinski (15) about what motivates him to give back, his answer is simple, “I know that I have been very fortunate in my life with school and family. Knowing that there are kids out there who don’t have life’s essentials is really shocking and I want to do what I can to help.”

Peyton is a Fairport High School sophomore who raised more than $15,000 to feed 400 families in the Rochester area. Peyton has been focused on two things his entire life: baseball and giving back to his community. From working in various local soup kitchens, to being a part of Asset Leaders, LEO Club, and winning a humanitarian award at his school, Peyton has been thoroughly dedicated to helping his neighbors.

He started his campaign in November 2016, when he learned about Feed the Children’s work through a former Major League Baseball player who lives near Peyton’s grandfather. He then spent six months raising the money to sponsor a Feed the Children semi-truck. Each truck supplies families with a week’s worth of much-needed food and essentials. In order to raise funds, Peyton called local companies, he talked to fellow peers and he got many Fairport teachers involved in his work. “It was hard to get some companies involved in our mission,” said Ryan Olinski, Peyton’s father. “We got a lot of no responses, and it stalled for a second, but we really owe the bulk of our campaign to the generous people who donated in our community.”
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Despite a few no’s, Peyton stuck with his mission and sent individualized thank you notes to each and every donor. The campaign officially hit its goal when Mulconry’s Irish pub & Restaurant hosted a raffle of local donations and a band to play for three hours while Peyton’s former and current teachers worked for tips. All money generated that night was donated to his campaign. That night alone, they made $3,000, pushing them over their $15,000 goal.

In late May, Peyton and many volunteers and baseball players from Elite Performance/PAC Training Center worked together to distribute boxes of food to those in need. With 34 percent of Rochester citizens living below the poverty line, Peyton’s actions meant the world to many local families.

“I feel like everyone should give back on some level,” said Peyton. “The feeling that people are benefiting from our actions is wonderful. I want to always give back to my community.”

Proposed Deep Cuts to Humanitarian Assistance and Domestic Nutrition Programs Prompt Tremendous Concern

Written by Andrew McNamee, Manager of Public Policy and Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations

The Administration’s FY 2018 budget was presented last week, and it includes deep cuts to agriculture and foreign affairs programs. These programs help feed hungry people at home and around the world. We understand the view that deficit reduction is an important national issue, but it’s important to understand that less than one percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, and less than a half of one percent goes to federal nutrition programs. As such, these cuts will not provide any significant reductions to the overall budget. The United States of America, as the richest nation in the world and the world’s greatest food producer, has traditionally led the world’s fight against famine and extreme poverty. However, the proposed deep cuts to foreign aid would most definitely mean a relinquishment of that role.

Under the proposed budget, spending by the Agriculture Department, which not only manages the nation’s agriculture programs but also its domestic anti-hunger programs (SNAP, WIC, National School Lunch Program), would be cut by $4.6 billion (a 21% cut). Spending on the U.S. State Department and other international programs (Food for Peace, Feed the Future, USAID) would be cut by $11.5 billion (a 29% cut).

These cuts would come at the worst possible time. Right now, 20 million people in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia face famine. This is not the time to squeeze the poor and hungry, especially when these programs represent such a small piece of government spending and their elimination would not solve the country’s fiscal challenges.