All children deserve to have proper nutrition | In Our Opinion

“If we could have but one generation of properly born, trained, educated and healthy children, a thousand other problems of government would vanish.” — President Herbert Hoover, at the 1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.

Of all community issues, few are as alarming as the fact that local children go hungry. Even as the economy appears to be improving statewide, Kitsap County’s jobless rate was 7.1 percent in June — albeit the seventh-lowest in the state — and families are still struggling. Economic recovery is not complete.

In the North Kitsap School District, 2,251 students — 34.5 percent — qualified for their school’s free or reduced-price lunch program in 2011-12, the last year for which figures are posted by the district. That number and percentage are up slightly from the previous year.

In an earlier editorial on this topic, former North Kitsap School District superintendent Gene Medina told of seeing children on Monday morning enjoying their first real meal since lunch at school on Friday. Now that summer is here, that begs the question:  “How do children who depend on free and reduced-price lunches during the school year get the food they need during the summer?”

Children are a community’s greatest investment. And several programs are working to ensure children get the nutrition they need this summer.

— Summer school lunches at Wolfle Elementary School are provided by ShareNet’s Food to Grow on Program for the first part of summer, after which the Food for Kids program takes over. Kingston Rotary and Kiwanis clubs have raised funds — including a grant from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe — to provide food through the Kingston Food Bank for children at the Tribe’s kitchen.

Last year, Food for Kids raised $5,950 to cover the cost of two food packets a week for seven weeks and to cover the gap in funding for summer school lunches. Food for Kids provided food packets for an estimated 75 children last year.

You can help keep this program going by sending a donation to Kingston-North Kitsap Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 832, Kingston, WA 98346.

— In addition to the above-mentioned program, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is sponsoring a USDA summer lunch program for children. Meals are available for children 18 and younger, regardless of income, Monday through Friday, noon to 1 p.m., through Aug. 30 at the Port Gamble S’Klallam Kitchen & Gym, 31912 Little Boston Road, Little Boston.

— North Kitsap Fishline’s Food for Thought program provides weekend meals for students during the school year. The program served 60 students districtwide its first year, 2010-11. “Somewhere between 125-180 children have been registered for the service each year [since then] and we now offer a summer program,” Fishline Executive Director Mary Nader said.

In addition, 16 donors sponsored Fishline’s Backpack Friends program this year, buying school supplies for students. Sponsors include Kitsap Bank, Bank of America, Windermere Foundation, Morgan Stanley and the Suquamish Tribe.

To be a part of a great thing, call 779-5190.


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