Make a difference: Help a hungry child

Aug 27, 2013

When the Waynesville Rotary Club launched its Help Haywood’s Hungry Kids campaign more than a year ago, it was in response to learning problems in school that teachers and counselors traced back to hunger.

Job loss, economic hardship and inflation had taken their toll and the club joined in with many other groups in Haywood to focus on one powerful idea — we should not and cannot let children go hungry in this community.

Fast forward to 2013, and the problem is still with us. The most recent Map the Meal Gap Study indicates that 28.2 percent, or 2,340 children in Haywood County are “food insecure.”

This means they live in households that face difficulty meeting basic food needs.

This year another problem has been thrown into the mix. Statewide computer changes have created delays since February in the state’s Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program (SNAP). The glitch put an enormous strain on local food banks, and while the delays have been somewhat eased, there are still families unable to get benefits through the program because of the computer woes.

The technology problems are statewide, and Haywood County Department of Social Services staff are caught in the middle when it comes to offering a fix. It is one staffers indicate will continue as more changes come down the pike to accept applications for those applying for health insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act.

While we might not be able to do much about state funding or computer problems, we can take action locally to achieve the goal of no child going hungry on our watch.

Many churches stock food pantries, as do numerous charitable organizations such as Haywood Christian Ministry, The Salvation Army, The Open Door and the Community Kitchen.

Additionally, the Waynesville Rotary Club’s backpack program sends a weekend meal home with students who might not have enough to eat otherwise. A $128 donation to the club at P.O. Box 988, Waynesville, NC 28786, will provide enough food for one child in the backpack program for an entire year.

We all need to recognize that hunger is indeed a problem in Haywood. Those of us who can spare a little can make a big difference in the lives of those who don’t have much.