year 2, week 46: this week i'm gonna... keep kids nourished
In 2011, Claire Bloom learned from a school teacher in her Dover, NH community that many kids in the free school lunch program endure hunger every weekend between Friday school lunch and Monday school breakfast (approximately 68 hours).
“That was the instant I said, ‘I have to do something about this. I can’t go through my life knowing that there is that kind of hunger in my town,’” states Bloom. Bloom was the first woman to be the second in command of the US Naval ship, USS Constitution, and she had founded and operated two companies after her Navy retirement in 1998. She knew her background had given her the ability to answer a social need.
End 68 Hours of Hunger started with 19 kids at three schools. Bloom serves as Executive Director and has never taken a salary. Today, thanks to donations, sponsorships, and partnerships with grocery megachains, it has an annual budget of $1.1 million and feeds over 2,500 children in seven states and counting.
“Towns find out about the program, and say, ‘I wonder if we have hungry children here?’ They investigate and say, ‘Oh my God, we do.’” says Bloom.
End 68 Hours of Hunger works to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive at school on Friday afternoon and the free breakfast they receive at school on Monday morning. Established in New Hampshire in 2011, End 68 Hours of Hunger is a program that puts nourishing food in the hands of school children to carry them through the weekend. The organization is entirely volunteer based and 100% of funds go directly to feeding at-risk children.
"Childhood hunger – or food insecurity – is a national problem. It occurs when children receive insufficient food on a regular basis and in many cases, miss meals entirely. After a while, these children also experience ‘fear of hunger’ that affects their behavior as much as physical hunger affects their bodies," explains Bloom.
The impact of hunger on the child is enormous. Teachers report that on Friday afternoons, the children who are unlikely to have enough food at home become very edgy and are unable to concentrate. After a school week in a structured environment where they have at least two full meals each day, they will leave for the weekend and for 68 hours have little to eat. That insecurity can lead to behavioral disruptions.
Often on Monday mornings, undernourished children return to school ill, and many spend the day in the nurse’s office. They are unable to focus and concentrate until they are adequately fed.
To combat this cycle, End 68 Hours of Hunger sends home with children every Friday a backpack of food that costs $10 and provides two breakfasts, two lunches, and three dinners, with some left over to share! All the behaviors of food-insecure children tend to disappear, and children arrive at school on Monday ready to learn. Teachers report that children are more responsible, and their performance improves. Documented increases in reading and math scores have been reported as well. End 68 Hours of Hunger is making a difference in the potential success of each child they feed.
"There are 13 million hungry children in the U.S.," Bloom states. "If people want their communities to thrive, they have to ensure that their children thrive. It's as simple as that."
Notes for this week:
- This week is National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week; World Kindness Day is Nov. 13th
- Our collective givetwig donation will provide 75 children with backpacks of food to carry them through the 68 hours of weekend hunger.
- For more information on End 68 Hours of Hunger, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to End 68 Hours of Hunger.