Why Summer Ending Too Early Can be a Good Thing
This week most of the school kids in Georgia will be heading back to the classroom to start the new school year. Seriously? It’s still about a bazillion degrees outside and the sun doesn’t set until almost 9:00 pm; but the kiddos are having to go back to the classroom. I remember back in the day we didn’t go back until after Labor Day. That, for us, was the official end of summer. Now it seems like summer ends before it even has a chance to start.
For many kids, the end of summer means an end to adventure and fun. Days at the pool, vacations to the beach and mountains, travel, visiting family, sleeping late, staying up late, baseball and barbeques. Summer is a time to enjoy being a kid. So there are probably a lot of kids who are heading back to school this week with long faces and great regret (and there are probably a lot of parent’s high fiving and jumping for joy just as the bus door closes on their little ones!)
However, for too many children in Georgia (and in the rest of America) the return to school will be a time of joy. Not joy because they are excited about the return to academics (although many will be) but rather because it may well be the first time since school let out in the Spring that they will get to eat breakfast, or maybe lunch.
The reality of hunger is that it disproportionately impacts children and the elderly. And when school is out many of those children go to bed hungry on many nights. School breakfast and lunch programs are vitally important in helping fight childhood hunger. And winning that fight is vitally important in helping kids succeed in school so they can get good paying jobs and get on the road to self-sufficiency.
During the upcoming discussions and debates about the federal government budget there likely will be much that will be said about school meal programs. Some will want to cut them and others will fight to keep and expand them. That is a very important conversation for the children heading back to school this week; whether they realize it or not.
John Berry, Chief Executive Officer