Real Solutions begin with Real People
By S. Kelley Henderson, Chief Executive Officer, Action Ministries
In April of this year, I wrote about many of the challenges facing Georgia’s food insecure families. Challenges that loom large on our community and have very complex causes. Size and complexity can be a deterrent to action, as many may view the problem as “too big” for anyone to actually have an impact. Or worse, it is someone else’s problem. Finding the perfect solution for big problems will take time and investment, but I believe the stakes are too high to wait for the “perfect solution.” The stakes are very high for children facing hunger.
For children, the reality of hunger can alter the trajectory of their future. Not only are the physical effects of hunger a danger to healthy development, the psychological impact often translates into behavioral symptoms. According to a study by the American Psychological Association “hungry children exhibited 7 to 12 times as many symptoms of conduct disorder (such as fighting, blaming others for problems, having trouble with a teacher, not listening to rules, stealing) than their at-risk or not-hungry peers” (APA, Effects of Poverty…, 2016). In other words, hunger directly impacts the learning environment for every kid in the classroom.
The same study also exposes that the high school dropout rate for these kids struggling with hunger is 4.5 times higher, leading to lower paying jobs, and multigenerational poverty. In total the economic impact of poverty, with hunger being a key driver, is over $500 billion dollars. Statistics like this put all of the grumbling about programs like SNAP (a.k.a. Food Stamps), which cost about $68 billion as of 2017, into perspective. If we get to these kids earlier, then maybe we can shift the trajectory for entire communities. Maybe we need to start with real solutions that have a direct impact today…or more specifically, on Monday mornings!
Action Ministries launched a program to address weekend hunger a few years ago called SuperPacks! Working directly with elementary schools (now about 70 in total), we connect community sponsors with hungry kids by helping them underwrite and pack kid friendly meal packs that serves over 2,500 kids each Friday. This program has transformed the lives of thousands of children, who can now come to school on Monday ready to learn. The transformation doesn’t stop there, it has a positive impact on the businesses, congregations, civic clubs, and individuals who are doing something about a complex issue. Our partners have shared the positive impact of improved employee morale, the energy and “high fives” that happen after a pack event, and the immediate requests for “when can we do that again?!” Hunger is complex but ending hunger for a child through community support is a “not-so-complicated” starting point.
Ending weekend hunger is great place to start, and getting involved is easy. Sponsor a school, host a pack event, be a Friday delivery driver…imagine what kind of future could be possible for a child who shows up ready to learn on Monday morning. It might just be that simple!
Real solutions begin with real people just like you, join us at www.actionministries.net/volunteer