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For any child to experience the pain and discomfort of consistent hunger is heartbreaking. To compound that with the frightening prospect of not knowing when, or even how, the next meal will come is an even greater tragedy. But hunger and food insecurity are the reality for nearly 20 percent of children in our community. It is a complex problem as multiple, overlapping issues like affordable housing, social isolation, health problems, medical costs, and low wages increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. There is no single face of food insecurity, and could be as close as our next door neighbor.
The negative impact of hunger on children goes way beyond a growling tummy. Children who are food insecure are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school; can have difficulty concentrating in school; can experience social and behavioral problems, as well as chronic health issues; and are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety. These are the sad and sobering facts that the Nourish Backpack Program, administered by the Youth Service Bureau, is working to address.
The Nourish Backpack Program provides backpacks of food to children in need who are identified through local schools and preschools. These backpacks are sent home every Friday to help ensure that the children will not go hungry over the weekend. Since 2014, nearly 44,000 bags of food have been provided through this program, and they are currently sending home around 225 bags per week. Families participating in the program say it makes a positive difference, and they are encouraged knowing their community and school care about them. Students look forward to getting their bags each Friday knowing that at least for that weekend, they will not go hungry.
It takes major financial support and hundreds of volunteers to keep this program running. Financial support is made possible through strong community partnership, such as local churches and businesses, as well as individual donors. But funding can fluctuate, even though the needs remain or might even increase. The Nourish Endowment Fund was established at the Montgomery County Community Foundation to help provide sustained funding for this program well into the future. Distributions from this fund go directly to support the Nourish Backpack Program.
There could not be a better time to contribute financially to help support this vital program. Through a generous, anonymous funder, gifts made to the MCCF Nourish Fund will receive $2 for every dollar given, up to $100,000 in donations. When this match is fulfilled, it will generate about $10,000 in annual support to the Nourish Backpack Program. Donations can be mailed to MCCF, P.O. Box 334, Crawfordsville, and put Nourish fund in the memo line if writing a check, or include a note. You can also donate easily online at www.mccf-in.org/give-now, and choose the Nourish fund from the drop down menu.
For more information, call us at 765-362-1267.