By Celeste Lohrenz
Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” As amazing as it may seem, nearly 13% of Americans overall – and 17.5% of children – live in households that are considered “food insecure.” That’s about 13 million children.
What that means for those children is that the only place they are guaranteed to get a full, nutritious meal is school. Outside of school, it is often a different story. This can result in malnutrition, higher rates of illness and hospitalization, poor academic performance, insecurity, lack of social skills, and other chronic issues. Ironically, it can also result in obesity for those who experience partial food insecurity because they often overeat when food is available in an effort to make up for missed meals, or they fill themselves up with inexpensive junk food.
Food insecurity is a problem that knows no geographic boundaries and impacts even the wealthiest states in the nation. In Connecticut, the child food insecurity rate is lower than the national rate, at 15.6%, but New Haven County registered a 17% child food insecurity rate.
There are many food banks and other programs that do their share to help collect food and money to provide food for these hungry children. Many of them are modeled after a weekend food program started in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 when a school nurse asked for help providing food for students that were complaining and stomach pains and dizziness.
Milford Food 2 Kids was created to help stem the food gap for children in Milford. With help from many selfless volunteers, the organization hands out bags of child-friendly food each week to children in need. Its mission to feed hungry children began in 2016, when it initially delivered 26 weekend food bags to children in two schools. By the end of the recently concluded school year, it had expanded its service to 166 children in 13 schools. Its goal is to continue to expand the Food 2 Kids program into a sustainable program that will provide food for children on an ongoing basis.
In order for programs like Food 2 Kids to succeed and effectively help close the food gap, they need help from individuals willing to donate to their cause, as well as from local organizations who help to organize donation drives.
As a local presence in Milford for more than 140 years, The Milford Bank has been very active in serving the needs of its communities beyond providing banking services. Each year, the Bank provides event sponsorships, charitable donations, and hosts its own events, like its recent paper shredding and e-recycling day.
In its ongoing mission to give back to the community it has been a part of for so long, The Milford Bank will be active in supporting the Food 2 kids program and will be accepting cash donations at all of its Milford locations throughout the month of September. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of finds raised will help Food 2 kids meet its 2018 goals. Contributions of all sizes are welcome: $7 will feed a child for a weekend, while $280 sponsors one child for the entire school year. For more information, please contact any Milford Office of The Milford Bank.
In addition to the collection drive, many employees of The Milford Bank are planning their own ways to raise funds for Milford Food 2 Kids throughout the month. Do not be surprised to see or hear about a special contest or bake sale. The Bank Employees have set a fundraising goal of $20,000. This matches Bank donations to the program for each of the past two years.
Food 2 Kids is always looking for more volunteers to help with shopping and picking up food, packing, delivering, stocking, and spreading the word throughout the community. Interested volunteers should contact Food 2 Kids directly at 203-877-4277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.