Addressing hunger in AmericaWednesday, March 07, 2012 By Catherine E. Lemel, staff writer/reporter
Turn on the TV, and there are dozens of commercials advertising children in different countries who are starving and need sponsorship. However, there has been little to no public service announcements about the families in America that need the sponsorship. There are kids and families all across the U.S .right now who do not know where their next meal is coming from, or whether it is coming at all. According to Carolyn Barton, director of child nutrition for Transylvania County Schools, and the official website for Second Harvest food bank community, 1 out of 6 Americans are food insecure, or not sure where their next meal is coming from. Barton said that the need for government assistance (known as “food stamps”) and nutritional support has sky rocketed over the past year and in order for a community to strive, it needs to be able to feed itself. Thankfully, Barton said, many churches have stepped up and created food banks and pantries to support the community. Some of the recent reports reported that 1 out of 4 children ages 18 and younger and many senior citizens on fixed incomes are the top demographics for the food insecure. Barton said that free and reduced lunch rates are at all time high in the country and locally 59.9 percent of Translyvania County Schools students are applied for free or reduced lunch. She encourages all students to eat in their cafeterias and that no one should be ashamed that they receive either free or reduced lunch. Barton also hopes that in the future that the cafeterias will have a homier atmosphere, making it more welcoming to people. There have been many studies and actions put into place to assist children and families who require assistance when it comes to feeding themselves and their families. According to Barton, the Backpack Buddies program has been a great deal of help when it comes to providing at least a little food security for children and their families. The program provides food every Friday to children so they are able to take food home and have some nourishment through out the weekend. This program is sponsored by the Mana food bank in Ashville but due many economical factors the demand in the region the Backpack Buddies program increased a great deal and the program could not keep up. According to Barton many churches stepped up to help the program out. One church, St. Philips of Brevard, offered a scholarship that covers all of the food packets.