To address the ongoing yet largely unknown problem of youth malnutrition in Silicon Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank is launching the Stop Childhood Hunger food drive this summer and will continue the effort all year long.
Second Harvest Food Bank serves families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, working with nonprofit and community groups to collect and distribute food to those in need, according to a press release from the food bank.
Even here in Silicon Valley, one in three school children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches for part of their daily nutrition, the release says.
“Teachers tell us about the ‘Friday panic’ that sets in on the day before school lets out for the weekend or summer because some students are worried they won’t get enough to eat,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. “We have to make sure children and their families have access to nutritious food during the summer and all year long. It’s imperative that we stop childhood hunger.”
Studies show that children who don’t get enough to eat suffer emotional and physical effects that can hamper their ability to do well in school and succeed later in life, the press release said. They are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, be unable to concentrate, be sick more often, and be overweight than children who get three meals a day. These issues can have a lifelong impact.
“Making sure kids get enough to eat is one way to help end the cycle of poverty,” Jackson said. “Education is the key to earning a decent living, but hunger can deprive children of the opportunity to get a good education. When kids have the nutritious food they need to thrive, they are better prepared to learn. They have the energy to pursue their dreams.
The Food Bank is working with its nonprofit partners in communities across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to ensure that local children get enough to eat, according to the press release. The Food Bank will provide food to nearly 100,000 children each month this summer.
In Morgan Hill, Second Harvest works with the Morgan Hill Community Center, St. Catherine Church’s Reachout and People That Care to ensure that children get enough to eat, the press release said.
Second Harvest is increasing the amount of food it provides to its partner agencies that serve children, such as pantries, day camps, and other summer youth programs, as well as its food-assistance programs that specifically serve families with children. These include the Food Bank’s Family Harvest program, a monthly food distribution held at partner agency sites, and Kids NOW (Nutrition On Weekends), a weekly program that sends food home each Friday with children in after-school and youth programs so they have access to food over the weekend.
The Food Bank’s Produce Mobile helps families get more fruits and vegetables for their children over the summer and all year long. Second Harvest also helps families apply for CalFresh (food stamps), which they can use to buy the nutritious groceries they need to feed their children.
Families who are struggling to put food on the table can call Second Harvest’s Food Connection multilingual hotline at 800-984-3663 to learn about food-assistance programs that can help, including summer feeding sites where children can get a meal and CalFresh.
To learn more about Second Harvest Food Bank and its programs, or get involved, visit www.SHFB.org