Childhood hunger – or food insecurity – is a national problem. It occurs when children receive insufficient food on a regular basis and in many cases, missing meals entirely. After a while, these children also experience “fear of hunger” that affects their behavior as much as physical hunger affects their bodies.
School personnel have observed these behaviors in children who are food insecure:
- Passive/aggressive behavior
- Excessive absences
- Repetition of a grade
- Difficulty forming friendships and/or getting along with others
- Physical illnesses, including frequent sore throat
- Short attention span or general inability to concentrate
What kind of food are we talking about?
An example of what might be given to a child:
- A box/bag of nutritional cereal
- Two cans of soup
- One jar of peanut butter or jelly (no glass please)
- One can of tuna or chicken
- Three fruit cups
- One box of crackers
- One box of macaroni and cheese or two packages of Ramen noodles (no cups please)
- Two nutrition bars
The food in this list costs approximately $10. A lot of money, sure. But without this program these children are hungry for 68 hours a week. In a school year that is about $500 per child, not counting vacations.
What happens to the money?
100% of every dollar contributed to End 68 Hours of Hunger goes directly to purchase food for these children, who have been identified by the guidance counselors and nurses at selected elementary schools as the most “at risk”.
The remaining expenses – bank fees, web site hosting, filing fees (for documents required by the IRS and the State of New Hampshire), solicitation of contributions, reproduction of information for clients, and a myriad of other administrative expenses – are paid by donors who have allocated funds for that purpose. Not one penny of contributed funds goes to pay a single person for a single minute of work! Efforts on behalf of this program are 100% voluntary.
How does the program help?
This program, established in New Hampshire in 2011, puts nourishing food in the hands of elementary school children to carry them through the weekend. Food is both purchased and packed into bags by volunteers, and delivered to the offices of the selected elementary schools. From there, a school employee delivers the food to the classrooms of the individual participating students. The students take the bags home on Friday afternoon. The cycle starts again, every week.
What is the impact?
The impact on the child is enormous. Teachers tell us that on Friday afternoons the children who are unlikely to have enough food at home become very edgy and are unable to concentrate. After a week in a structured environment where they have at least two full meals, they will leave school and for 68 hours have little to eat. That insecurity can lead to some behavioral disruptions. On Monday mornings they return to school ill, often spending the day in the nurse’s office. They are unable to focus and concentrate until they once again are nourished.
Do Volunteers interact with the children?
Volunteers never come in contact with the program’s children. The distribution is all done by school personnel.
What about fresh food and food allergies?
Every effort is made to spend as little as possible and yet obtain the maximum nutritional value for each child. While fresh fruits and vegetables would be wonderful, this program must rely totally on non-perishable food. If allergies or other dietary restrictions are known, food is adjusted as much as possible to accommodate these special needs.
How can I help?
We are GROWING, and we need assistance in all kinds of areas. Check our How to Help page for current needs.
How do we start a program in our town?
The way our program works is town by town.
Step 1: When a town has an interest, identify two people prepared to take on the responsibility for day-to-day program management.
Step 2: Locate permanent space from which to run the program. A minimum of 300 square feet, lockable secure space, preferably with light and heat.
Once these have been identified, Claire Bloom, the Executive Director of End 68 Hours of Hunger, will fully train the participants and walk with them every step of the way until they are ready to run the program on their own.
Step 3: Quantify the demand by school.
Step 4: Set up a community meeting of business leaders and civic leaders to discuss the program and start the business of fund raising and food donations.
Step 5: Get volunteers teams to pack food.
Step 6: Get shelving and bins for the food (typically donated).
Step 7: Establish the mechanism for replenishing the food.
Step 8: Train the teams
100% of the donated funds must purchase food, so donations of everything else needed (shelving, bins, etc) are required.
Contact us to get started!
- Home for Hope: www.home4hope.com Access all the community resources you might be looking for, with one entry of your zip code!
- Dover Food Pantry: http://www.straffordcap.org/programs/food-a-nutrition 603-742-1666. Located at 1 Silver Street, the food pantry is open from 9 am to 12 noon on Thursdays. No outdated food is allowed.
- Dover Friendly Kitchen: http://darladover.tripod.com/kitchen.html. Get a free meal every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5pm to 6pm at St. Thomas Church Parish Hall, Locust Street in Dover.
- Coast Bus Schedules: www.coastbus.org 603-743-5777. The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has proudly served the seacoast region of New Hampshire (Rockingham and Strafford Counties) and Berwick, Maine, with affordable, safe transportation since 1981.
- HUB Family Resource Center: www.hubfamilies.org, 23 Atkinson St. (in the McConnell Community Center) 603-749-8800. The HUB is dedicated to strengthening families in Strafford County and surrounding towns through parent education, family support and children’s programs, which contribute to positive family growth and development.
- City of Dover: www.ci.dover.nh.us. The city of Dover hosts many community breakfasts. Look in the events calendar to see where and when the next one will be held.