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Hopelink launches ‘End Summer Hunger’ program

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Annual campaign will feed low-income kids

Hopelink’s annual grassroots campaign aimed at ensuring that school kids have enough to eat during the summer months is underway. The "End Summer Hunger" fund and food drives – running through August – bring together local businesses, organizations, schools and individuals to help provide low-income families with food for kids who receive free and reduced-fee breakfasts and lunches during the school year.

The campaign takes on the gap in regular nutritious daytime meals for kids who are on summer break, while also addressing increasing demand at Hopelink’s five emergency service centers while the school programs are on hiatus. The proceeds from End Summer Hunger will stock the food banks for the high-demand summer months.

In 2010, the End Summer Hunger campaign raised more than $160,000 in cash and over $120,000 in food donations. Last year, more than 60 local businesses helped raise donations of money and food that benefited hundreds of families.

"With the support of businesses, schools and individuals, Hopelink works very hard to find direct, effective ways to fight poverty in our area," said Marilyn Mason-Plunkett, president and CEO of Hopelink. "End Summer Hunger is an important tool for helping to feed the more than 11,000 children in north and east King County who would ordinarily go hungry during the summer," she said. "Furthermore, End Summer Hunger relieves the parents’ extra financial burden of providing those summertime meals, which in turn contributes to their families’ financial stability."

Children who receive free or reduced fee meals at school come from families who struggle to provide basic necessities. The loss of this school-based nutritious food program presents an immense challenge to parents who are already squeezing every penny out of their budgets. In addition to budgeting to replace meals they must also find ways to pay for daycare for the summer since for many families both parents work. These stresses create added pressure for families to be able to pay rent or their mortgage, threatening them with becoming homeless.

During 2010, Hopelink’s five food banks provided more than 3.5 million pounds of food for more than 6,600 families. Demand was up 12 percent last year, and has risen sharply – 47 percent – over the past three years.

Schools that support the program encourage children in classrooms to collect coins, while businesses, organizations and civic or community clubs hold food drives, fund drives, or both, according to what works best for them.

Expedia is the presenting sponsor for End Summer Hunger 2011. Additional sponsors include First Tech Credit Union, Concur Technologies, Inc., Intelius, Labor Ready, Tecplot, Nintendo of America Inc., AvalonBay Communities, Bob Byers Volvo, BECU, Infospace and Bookey Consulting.

For information on how to get involved in End Summer Hunger, go to www.hope-link.org.

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