For more than 16,000 children in north and east King County, summer vacation means something other than a chance to spend the day outside playing with friends: it means no longer knowing for sure that you will have breakfast or lunch.
End Summer Hunger – running through August – is Hopelink’s annual grassroots campaign aimed at ensuring that local kids in low-income families have enough to eat while they’re on summer break.
The fundraising drive brings together local businesses, organizations, schools and individuals to help provide food for kids who receive free and reduced-fee breakfasts and lunches during the school year.
Over the next several months, Hopelink is encouraging groups and individuals alike to get involved with the campaign. The proceeds from End Summer Hunger will stock the agency’s five food banks for the high-demand summer months when kids are not in school and the subsidized school programs are not available. In 2012, the End Summer Hunger campaign served nearly 5,000 children in 2,300 homes.
Hopelink president and CEO Marilyn Mason-Plunkett said End Summer Hunger helps families continue to move toward self-sufficiency by ensuring they have enough to eat and are able to focus their energies on getting back on their feet.
“Food is essential. It is a building block. When families are hungry, stability is impossible,” Mason-Plunkett said.
“We know that consistent access to nutritious food enables our low-income families to direct their limited resources toward other basic needs – such as heat, transportation, and childcare – without worrying about whether their children have enough to eat,” she said. “And we know that having nutritious food and enough to eat is essential to helping kids learn, thrive and grow into healthy adults.”
In 2012, Hopelink’s five food banks provided nearly 2.7 million pounds of food to more than 15,000 people in the community.
The End Summer Hunger program provides additional healthy breakfast and lunch-type foods to current food bank clients with school-aged children; including fresh fruit and fruit juices, peanut butter, cereal, ramen and snacks.
Schools that support the End Summer Hunger program encourage children in classrooms to collect coins, while businesses, organizations and civic or community clubs hold food drives, fund drives, or both.