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Food and Our Children


July 1, 2017

Beth Wallace
The sun is out, thunder and lightning storms dazzle us as I write, fireflies are making nightly appearances, sprinklers and pools are up and running. Finally, it's summer. While most of us look forward to the summer slow-down, welcoming getaways, picnics and barbeques, fireworks and more time with family and friends, others in our community dread the summer months. When a family is struggling and there are more mouths to feed around the table, summer can be anything but a vacation.

Thankfully, our local schools recently made the decision to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. In 2016, 1,863 students in Bennington alone (Shaftsbury, Pownal and North Bennington excluded) qualified for Free and Reduced Lunch. But, when school is out for winter, spring and summer breaks, that means that families in our community must provide two more meals a day per student at home. That's roughly 110 more meals (per school-age child in the home) from June through August than they typically must provide from September through May - on the same budget. That's a sobering 204,930 meals needed for low-income students in Bennington alone.

A handful of community groups along with the Abbey Food Group are trying to alleviate the food crunch. They are hosting some pop-up sites to provide brown bag lunches to children in need throughout the community, and for that we are grateful. However, the need persists. Our local food pantries often see an influx of donations around typical times of giving - the Christmas holiday, for example - but not so much during these crucial, and often overlooked, times for children.

If you have the means, please consider this opportunity to demonstrate service above self by donating to your local food shelf, volunteering time at a pop-up lunch site or food pantry. And if you don't know where to start, I'd love to help connect you.

Happy Summer!

Author: Beth Wallace
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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