Wahkiakum youth suffer food insecurity

 


To The Eagle:

Food insecurity for youth is a real problem in our state. One in six Washington kids live in a household that faces challenges in putting enough food on the table. One in eight Washingtonians relies on SNAP (food stamps), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Half of all people on SNAP are kids. If you think things are better in Wahkiakum County, think again. Just check with the school to see how many of the 300 students served every day qualify for free or reduced lunches.

The connection between adequate nutrition and the ability to focus, learn, grow, and perform is well established. Concerned with the high probability that some students were going home every weekend to households lacking adequate food, the GAP backpack program was started, and it provides two days worth of food to children at risk of hunger over the weekends. When school gets out on June 14 these same students head home for almost three months. That’s a long, long weekend and they don’t go home with a backpack full of food.


For the past three summers volunteers and donated funds have enabled a free summer lunch program to be offered at JA Wendt Elementary for approximately 20 days each year. Last year more than 400 meals were served. Plans are underway to build a better summer for the kids in our county. In addition to having lunches available in Cathlamet, discussions are underway to have a second meal distribution site further west, perhaps at Johnson Park. Also, many have expressed a desire to have structured activities available for kids to engage in. Crafts, music, games, and reading have all been offered as options. Hands on fun, lunch provided.

If you are interested in being part of the planning process please join us at the Cathlamet Community Center on April 11, 1 p.m. We have a strong financial base to work with. People power will be the make or break factor in what we can do.

Suzanne Holmes

Puget Island

 

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