Attacking childhood hunger in West Michigan with Kids’ Food Basket

Every March Fox 17 teams up with Kids' Food Basket to raise awareness about childhood hunger. We kicked things off this year with a school administrator who sees the need first hand. Brandy Carey is an Early Childhood Specialist at Orchard View Early Elementary and says, "if its not right in front of you and its not something that your living with every day, not prevalent in your world then its not something that you generally think about."

But it`s a reality many children face in West Michigan. In fact, Kids Food Basket' says 1 in 5 kids in West Michigan can't count on having access to good, nourishing food everyday. In Kent county that is 16% of kids affected by hunger, in Ottawa county 14% and in Muskegon county 21%.

"One thing that I worry about, is people thinking that it's just maybe another handout that someone wants, that`s not the reality. The reality is, it has absolutely nothing to do with the adult. The reality is, that its all about that kid. And meeting that kid, where they are at with what their need is.  I think that parents are doing the best that they can, I think that they are trying to provide the best they can for their kiddos and you know sometimes this much money, it only goes so far. So sometimes they just need some extra help."

Carey's school just started receiving sack suppers at the end of January and now 46% of students and growing receive them daily. "When they were coming in on Monday's really hungry eating breakfast really quick. We were thinking how much are they getting on the weekends and that was a concern."

She remembers one encounter in-particular early in the school year. "I had a little boy who was in kindergarten who stopped me at the end of the day and he didn`t want to go home. I said, well what`s going on and he said I don`t want go home, then of course my first fear was oh gosh what`s going on at home. So I start asking him some questions and he said last year my pre school teacher would put some extra snacks in my backpack for me. So I said oh, do you know why she did that and he said yeah, because we don`t have a lot of food and snacks at home."

For these kids its more than just food, it`s a sense of security. It`s something that they count on, that impacts all aspects of their life and in just a few months, Carey says they can already see the difference.

"If you take that worry off their plate, then its just one less hurdle that they have to get over. We do find that kids are more relaxed when they come in and its a sense of caring and trust, like we care so much about you, and about your learning and your behavior and about your entire life", she says.

There are still 33 schools on the Kids' Food Basket waiting list and they have a campaign underway to help Feed the Future as they just acquired the last working farmland in Grand Rapids to start growing their own food and hopefully get more schools off that waiting list. You can join in on the fight on March 22nd during Go Orange Day. For more information on that, click here.  

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