Unseen ‘food insecurity’ for Milton school children a regular occurence
If you scratch the surface of what’s visible in Milton you learn surprising and at times unsettling facts. A few weeks ago I attended a holiday vendor ladies night out to benefit End 68 Hours of Hunger. I went for the chance to spend some time with a dear friend and was happy to make a food donation at the door as my ‘admittance’. What I learned that evening from a few of the organizers was sobering.
The 68 hours refers to the amount of time that some children spend hungry from their Friday school lunch until Monday morning’s school breakfast. This national not for profit has an organized Milton chapter. Currently, volunteers are providing a weekend backpack of provisions for approximately FIFTY students.
The student identities are confidential, known only to the school guidance departments. Older children who don’t want to be known to their peers for being in this program can receive a key to a secure pantry locker to get their backpack. According to local volunteer, Stefanie Berry, “we tend to see the number of requests climb in the winter when heating costs may impact finances.” Other reasons could include substance abuse and addiction in parents or guardians, job loss, mental health issues, etc. The national website says “1 in five children struggle with food insecurity in the United States”. The more direct way I would put this is, these kids are left to fend for themselves.
Frederick Bierwieler, Nute’s wood shop teacher (Technical Education) crafted the handsome closet and stool. Claire Bloom, founder of End 68 Hours, donated the money to have it built. Students at Shortridge Academy and Venture Crew 155 have been assisting in packing up the weekend bags. Wendy Morneau inventories and helps stock the pantry closet.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Laura Noseworthy, another local volunteer, suggests prepared convenience foods, such as peanut butter, individual fruit and veggie cups, soups, mac n cheese, pudding cups, hot breakfast cereals or instant breakfast drinks, hot chocolate and crackers, canned meals like Chef Boyardee. Think items a child can open and prepare without adult supervision.
Milton Hardware will graciously accept your drop offs, as well as the office at the Middle and High School, where they’ll be delivered to the Guidance Department. Cash donations are very welcome, and they seek to cut coupons from the weekly circulars to save money. Corporate donors would be the greatest gift they could hope to receive in the form of sponsorship.
If you are as disturbed as I am about these children going hungry through no fault of their own, remember them and the important work End 68 Hours of Hunger is doing for our Milton kids. Throw a few extra items in your cart at the Market Basket and drop them off on your way home. “Food insecurity” is an awful thing to contemplate in Milton’s kids.
Thanks to Stefanie Berry and Laura Bubar-Noseworthy for providing me details about the Milton program. I am certain there are many more volunteers I wasn’t able to recognize in this article working behind the scenes.