Guest Blogger: Shawn Paton, Community Investment, Strong Families & Basic Needs, United Way
A bill that United Way’s across the state have advocated for with legislators for a number of years will soon be signed into law! Breakfast after the Bell moves school breakfast service from before school, when many children do not have the opportunity to participate prior to the start of class, to after the start of the school day, so it is available to all kids regardless of how early they arrive at school.
In Pierce County, more than 50,000 students are enrolled in free and reduced-price school meal programs. Children struggling with hunger have more health issues, miss more days of school and may have behavioral issues. Making sure that these kids have breakfast means children who arrive at school hungry aren’t forced to wait until lunch to eat. Breakfast gives these kids the energy to focus and do better in school.
Many of these children rely on free school breakfast and lunch to provide foundational nutrition during the week, so Breakfast after the Bell is a victory for hungry children! However, these same children are at risk of going hungry on weekends and school breaks when free school meals aren’t available. That is why United Way of Pierce County supports the Power Packs program, providing food packs on weekends and over school breaks for those children most at risk of not having enough food at home.
Despite the economic boom in our region, hunger is a growing issue.
Our food bank partners report that nearly 70% of households they serve have at least one working adult. Forty percent of their clients are under 18 years of age.
Food bank visitors report having difficulty making ends meet because of rapidly increasing housing costs, child care costs and more. Some working families make too much to qualify for free and reduced-price meal programs, but because of other household expenses, they are not able to afford school lunches or even to put enough food on the table at the end of the month.
United Way is working in partnership with the Hunger-Free Pierce County Collaborative to fight hunger in our community. Visit http://www.uwpc.org/hunger-initiative to find out how you can get involved!