TAKING A BITE OUT OF SUMMER HUNGER
Guest blog: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
Kids everywhere look forward to summer vacation. Getting out of school for three long months means days filled with sleeping late, playing with friends, car trips with families, and the freedom to do whatever they like for hours on end. But for many children, the summer break from school looks totally different. For many children, those three months mean they lose access to the daily meals provided by free and reduced-priced breakfasts and lunches they receive at school. Those meals are often the only source of nutrition for these children, and a break from school looms large as a season promising little in the way of nutritious food. The fact is that one in five children in North Carolina faces hunger on a daily basis, and hunger doesn’t go on a summer break.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has long been a leader in the fight against child hunger. Our initiatives include BackPack Buddies that provides nutritious, kid-friendly weekend meals to children who might otherwise go without. We also coordinate and stock School Pantries that offer more than 2,000 families each month with a safe, convenient source of food to take home. Through programs like these, the Food Shuttle focuses on meeting children and their families at their point of need and getting food to them when they need it most.
Enter summer vacation and the issue of children facing 90 days with little access to nutrition. This summer, the Food Shuttle is addressing that issue head on. We’re working with schools and community partners to launch a summer distribution of Backpack Buddies. Through this program, we’re able to reach children who live in areas where summer feeding programs aren’t readily available. By working with school counselors and social workers, we’re identifying students with the greatest risk of food insecurity. The Spinning Plate food truck is serving meals to children throughout the region in partnership with several community centers, summer youth programs, and educational pop-ups. By going directly to the point of need, The Spinning Plate integrates the Food Shuttle’s breadth and depth of services to bring hunger solutions to underserved communities. And Horizon Catering, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s catering service, has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to provide healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to children attending local summer camps in our service area.
This year, families everywhere are facing increased economic struggles. Fuel and food costs have skyrocketed, and electric bills soar as temperatures climb. Like our food bank colleagues across the country, we’re experiencing a surge of demand for services in under-resourced communities due to the rising costs of living. It’s no surprise that we’ve seen an increase in distribution costs where it’s needed most across our seven-county service area.
Additionally, our fuel costs have climbed by 49%. Even more alarming has been the increase in our cost for purchasing food, which has risen by over 400%. Thankfully, our community remains steadfast in its support of our mission to feed, teach, grow, and cultivate innovative approaches to end hunger as we continue to meet the needs of neighbors forced to make the impossible choices between groceries, gas, rent, utilities, healthcare, and any number of basic necessities.
We’re undaunted by the tasks ahead of us. We’re empowered by the challenge to make our world a better place for our neighbors, serve those less fortunate, right systemic wrongs and create a promising future for the next generation. Summer, bring it on.
– Laura Rice, Communications Director