Philadelphia Kids Rely on Summer Food Programs

Philadelphia Kids Rely on Summer Food Programs

Many of us struggle as parents to make ends meet and provide the simple necessities for our kids: clothing, shelter and food to sustain them. Since the economic crisis began, poverty-stricken families have found in near impossible sometimes to provide their children with even the bare essentials.

During the school year, thanks to government mandated school lunch programs, we know our kids won’t go hungry. Families facing financial struggles are often granted discounted or free lunches, lightening the load even if just a little.

But what happens when school’s out and those kids who rely on school lunch have nowhere to turn for sustenance? It seems unreal, especially if your family struggle isn’t as severe as other families. Statistics show the rates for children living in poverty is 22%, up from 17% in 2006, before the economic crisis struck.

Parents often sacrifice their own needs to ensure their children are fed, but for some, even this sacrifice is not enough.

In Philadelphia, government-sponsored food programs, churches and community pantries provide lunches for children in need, but studies show charity-related food programs tend to suffer in the spring and summer months, as most who donate associate the need for food with cold weather. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and families with children continue to face hardships that often leave kids with empty bellies.

There are those who have a hard time taking this level of poverty seriously, like Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh moaned about these summer lunch programs, telling hungry kids to look inside the refrigerator and cupboard for food, or head out to McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal. He went on to say if none of those options worked, “There’s always the neighborhood dumpster.”

Hearing that made me more angry than you could possibly imagine, especially coming from someone who obviously has no idea how hard it can be to provide for your children in an unexpected economic crisis. So-called experts say you have to be prepared, set aside emergency funds and do whatever it takes. For many families, their emergency funds were depleted years ago after they were forced to dip into it again and again and again after losing their jobs. Despite years of college education, more people than ever found themselves out of work in their fields and applying for minimum-wage jobs just to survive.

You can say all you want about them not trying hard enough, not doing whatever it takes, but in the end, it’s still the kids who suffer, no matter how hard their parents work to try and get by.

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