As I write this letter today, I am in awe of the generosity from folks (companies, churches, groups,and individuals) who are thoughtful and giving people. In October of 2012, *GAP was started. It is a program for school aged kids, from any income level, whose families want them to participate by getting extra food for weekends, school breaks, etc. The name says it all—GAP—to fill in the “gaps” when kids aren’t able to get free/reduced breakfasts and lunches at school. We decided to make GAP an acronym to stand for Giving Action Plan.
Tom Garski and John Doumit are our right hand men and Sue Kuller is our awesome president. We have many volunteers (high school aged to late 70s) who pack up the bags weekly and bring them to the school where another group of volunteer teachers disperse the bags for the next day’s handout. It’s quite a system. I knew I would never be able to do this by myself and I’m thankful that I don’t have to.
There are many families in our county, and all over the US (about 25%, according to most statistics), that need extra help because of food insecurity. I have studied and been certified by Portland State University in the study of poverty and have volunteered in poverty and food insecurity situations since 2005. Poverty and food insecurity can look like any person in any crowd. It happens to families who are fully employed and not. I have been working with kids in poverty since I initially started teaching in the public school system in 1991. This is when I first noticed that the US had a problem of being such a wealthy country, but with a huge number of families who struggled day to day for various reasons. I have lectured on this topic before locally. I love to talk about it and raise awareness. It’s a real problem and the kids are never to blame, if anyone even is. Poverty, hunger and food insecurity affects all of us.
Today, GAP is feeding 45 school aged kids in the Wahkiakum School District, K-12. I don’t know all of their stories. It doesn’t matter why they feel they need the extra help. It’s not my business, I don’t believe, to decide who is worthy and who is not. All kids are worthy of having nutritious, kid friendly meals, three times a day, everyday. This is imperative for normal physical, mental, and emotional growth. Humans have much better attention spans, are healthier more often, miss less school or work, have better moods, and get better rest when we are well fed.
This winter break from school will be at least 16 ½ days long and could be longer if we have inclement weather that delays or cancels school. If a student usually gets breakfast and lunch from school, that is too many meals for anyone to be missing. People seem to have even less money at this time of year because of holidays, illnesses, and lay-offs. I am happy to report that there are individuals who give faithfully every month to this cause. This letter is to thank you publicly. Your service is important and appreciated by many. This community is a wonderful place to live. On behalf of GAP, I’d like to wish all families, rich or poor, secure or struggling, a very Blessed Christmas!
Feeling grateful, Lisa Sauer-Ridout, Founder of GAP