You know what you feel like when you’re hungry. Your stomach growls; maybe you get lethargic or even a little grouchy. You think about the next meal and anticipate the satisfaction you’ll feel when mealtime comes.
For most of us we know pretty well when and where that next meal will be. But imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t know.
Now imagine that same anxiety foisted on a little kid.
It is cliché anymore to say that no child should go hungry. There isn’t a person we know who’d argue the point. But few of us attend to that problem with any regularity. That’s why this week’s story about the free Summer Food Service Program in Coos County was important.
We need reminding that there are children who go hungry every day right here on the South Coast. We don’t see them, even if they’re standing in front of us, passing us on the street or playing in a park. Hunger doesn’t necessarily show itself like a physical disability. But those hungry kids are all around us.
Participation in the summer food program increased 12 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to a report by Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. But AmeriCorps member Luke Rushing, who’s working with the program this season, thinks the increase comes because the program has expanded. There aren’t more hungry kids; they’ve always been there but weren’t being reached before.
If indeed that’s the case, then it suggests there are even more youngsters in our communities who are going without a decent meal and still haven’t been reached. We need reminding about that, too.
Child hunger is a serious social issue — in terms of public health, and in terms of economics. Hungry kids don’t do well in school, and kids who don’t do well in school don’t fare well as adults. Adults who aren’t contributing to the general welfare become a drain on it. We need reminding about that, too.
You can get involved. Go to www.summerfoodoregon.org and click the “How to Help” link. And remind someone else to do the same.