Going back to school can be a scary time for any child. Not knowing what to expect can bring fear to the most well-adjusted youngster. But can you imagine going through all of these new experiences when you don't even know where your next meal is coming from?
This is the issue faced by many Brevard County families. The Children's Hunger Project was founded in 2010 to address the issue of children going hungry on the weekends and is working to end the cycle of poverty by providing these children with the nutritional foundation to allow them to be successful in school, graduate from high school and go on to be successful in life.
Each week, we send food packages to 36 elementary schools all over Brevard. More than 1,500 children each week get a package to take home, ensuring they have food to eat on the weekend.
It is easy to live in our community and not see hunger as a problem. Brevard is an affluent area, but some families face tremendous challenges. Children are coming to school on Monday mornings after not getting the proper nutrition their bodies and minds need to develop correctly.
Rent is at an all-time high here. More residents are working two and three jobs. If parents are working that much, they most likely not home on the weekend to make sure their children are eating properly.
Children who come to school hungry do not perform well. They get sick more often than their peers. And it also takes them longer to recover because their bodies do not have the nutrients they need. Hungry children are more prone to behavior and emotional outbursts, as well. Hunger is a powerful influencer.
- Children who come to school without eating breakfast test on average 17 points lower than their peers in math skills.
- 62% of our teachers know of a child who comes to school hungry.
- More than 50% of Brevard students are now eligible for the national free lunch program.
The sad truth is that even more families need the services of The Children's Hunger Project, but limited resources restrict how many food packages get distributed.
Every Thursday evening at our office in Cocoa, 30-35 volunteers pack all the food that will be delivered. The food is also delivered to the schools by volunteer drivers, so our operating costs are very low, allowing us to serve even more local children.
But we are in constant need of volunteers and we also need donations to help us buy more food. The more funds we have, the more food we can purchase and serve more children. Secure online donations can be made at the website.
If you are interested in getting involved, visit www.thechildrenshungerproject.org or call 321-610-1900.
Keith Gee, Executive Director for The Children’s Hunger Project, has spent his entire career in nonprofit management and fundraising. He volunteers with several organizations in Brevard County including the Rotary Club of Suntree and helps teach the Viera High School marching band in the fall.
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