Many of us may not think about hunger very often, if at all. Many of us, when hungry, simply open our refrigerator or cupboard and grab a snack any time our tummies get to rumbling. It is a luxury we often don’t even think twice about as we go about our day. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many households in the state of Wisconsin, especially households with children. It’s hard to imagine but, 1 in 7 children in the state are facing the reality of hunger. Many in our local community too. Often, we think of hunger as happening “somewhere else”. The truth is, it happens right here in Burnett County.
If a person were to check in with a local food pantry, they might be surprised to hear of the many families who need to use this important resource just to help keep food on the table. Beyond the food pantries, another organization works directly toward helping alleviate childhood hunger, that is The Salvation Army. The organization and its numerous volunteers send backpacks full of food home with school children on the weekends. This is done to ensure they will have access to food at home when they are not at school receiving a free or reduced lunch—they may otherwise go without. Each backpack contains dinner items, breakfast, a snack and of course a fruit and vegetable. These backpacks can help supplement a family who is struggling and ensure that our local students are not going without this important resource. “Research and conventional wisdom tell us how important proper nutrition is to children’s physical growth, mental development, and ability to concentrate and perform in school. They can suffer from physical, mental and emotional problems, sometimes experiencing permanent damage. They often struggle with disciplinary and performance issues in school, which has a lasting effect on their ability to receive a higher education, to find living-wage paying jobs, and to escape the cycle of hunger and poverty that trapped them at an early age.” (The Hunger Coalition)
Last school year, when the children were in school and when they were sent home due to COVID-19, The Salvation Army and their volunteers continued to provide over 100 backpacks each week to children in the Siren and Grantsburg school districts. Webster’s backpack program also continued and served nearly 80 families each week. These organizations worked hard to make sure that food went home despite the closures. Childhood hunger is a problem that we can solve if we all work together. Donations are needed to help this important resource remain available. To learn more about how you can help the Salvation Army Backpack Program, please contact 715-497-4438 or visit us on the web at www.safaithhouse.org.
Submitted by: Angela Moulton, Burnett County Salvation Army
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