CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) The holidays are a joyous time of year for many people. With the kids out of school and extra time spent with family, it can be a comforting and enjoyable time. But for some children, it is also a time when they are vulnerable to hunger because they aren’t getting hot meals at school.
Several groups in our area are working to gather and distribute nutritious, easy to prepare foods to address the very serious concern.
“We have a two-week-long break from Christmas and we know a lot of our kids depend on school breakfast and lunch during the week for meals,” said Angela Brown with Elk River Backpack Blessings.
For some kids whose families may be struggling to make ends meet the hot meals, they get at school every day could be the only meals available to them.
“We get these long breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter kind of back to back, and these kids don’t have food at home,” Brown explained. “So we are always trying to think of new ways to get food into the hands of kids so that food insecurity isn’t something they have to worry about over the holidays.”
Having students home from school can put a bigger strain on an already tight family budget. Several area charities are gathering nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods to send home with kids during the school vacation.
“Here in Kanawha County we seem to have a pocket of families that need our assistance,” said Karen Bibbee with Tyler Mountain Cross Lanes Community Services. “It is very important that when the children are out of school that somebody comes and fills in for the school as best we can.”
Step by Step, INC. in Charleston also works to fill in the nutritional blanks for children in their community schools.
“Recently thanks to Mountain Mission we got a bunch of snack bags donated,” said Cassidy Bailey, Kanawha County Program Director for Step by Step, INC. “They are weekend bags ravioli, combos good snacks that all the kids want.”
Charities say it is a need that is there not just during the holidays but also after school, weekends and summer break.
“It is important because families need to have time together and a lot of that time should be spent around the table,” Brown said.
Many local schools also have their own food pantries so students have a place to get food to get them by between meals served in the school cafeteria.