By Laura Sodano Beausoleil
I can’t believe summer is just about over! Perhaps many of you reading this are taking a late-August journey before the school year begins.
The word “journey” makes me think about the journey many low-income parents or guardians travelduring the summer months. A fun experience does not fit into their budgets because they are unemployed or they are working so many hours or they have several jobs — all to make ends meet. The goal of their journey is to keep food on the table.
Our kids summer feeding programs have been busy this year, helping those parents or guardians who don’t have the means to transition their budgets from free- or reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches. These programs are a welcome safety net.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey hosted our annual Teen Hunger Institutes. Each Institute is a 2-day experience into the world of food banking. We packed food for our partner charities at our Hillside warehouse; cleaned up and planted vegetables at the Hillside Community Garden; learned how low-income families shop for healthy food on a budget; and visited one of our state senator’s legislative aides. These young people, ages 10 through 17, were excited and engaged about helping others. They will be the FoodBank’s hunger ambassadors at their schools this year and onward.
We are always proud to host these young people who are committed to making a difference. Many of them learned for the first time that 1 in 5 kids in New Jersey is food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from — or if they’ll have something to eat.
So, is summertime easy for everyone? No. But thanks to YOU, volunteers, donors and advocates, we can help people across the state. For this, we thank you.
If you would like a hunger education session in your school or organization, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for my next post about Hunger Action Month™ and more!
Laura Sodano Beausoleil is CFBNJ’s Hunger Action Coordinator.