GREENCASTLE- Through March 31, 2024, the Greencastle-Antrim School District and the Giant Company are combining their charitable forces to help ease food insecurity for local school children. This “Feeding School Kids” initiative aims to nourish students and also raise awareness of a persistent problem among low income families. The school district asks the community to participate in this worthy program at their local Giant grocery store, and also communicate its purpose to friends and family.
Participation is simple. When shopping at Giant, accept the invitation to “round up” to the nearest dollar at the register. This amount will then be donated to the Feeding School Kids cause. Giant customers can also give by converting their CHOICE Reward Points into donations, or by purchasing a reusable bag. The Greencastle participating Giant store is Martins, located at 500 North Antrim Way.
Donated funds will be used to clear lunch debt, provide backpacks with weekend food, build a community pantry, plus other uses. The Greencastle-Antrim School District’s food organization will have sole discretion to distribute these donated funds in ways that best benefit their students. Their commendable goal is eliminating hunger for all children in the Greencastle school community. Those who require the most help will be given first access to nutritious meals and snacks.
Currently, Greencastle serves breakfast and lunch to children; breakfasts are free for all students K through 12. Greencastle-Antrim Food Service Manager Crystal Heller is enthused about the current trends for helping hungry school kids. “The free breakfasts provided by the state and this Giant partnership to help clear lunch debts are positive steps in the right direction.”
Childhood hunger is a challenge facing every school district. According to No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to eradicating food insecurity, one in five U.S. kids live with hunger. That ratio correlates to 13 million children nationally. Up to 60% of low-income children often come to school hungry.
Low income households regularly struggle to feed all living there, and that condition can fluctuate as a daily or monthly dilemma, or occur during certain periods of the year. Often, parents face difficult choices whether to pay bills for healthcare, housing, or utilities before buying groceries. For some unfortunate kids, a free or subsidized school meal can be a nutritional and emotional godsend.
Teachers have noticed a direct correlation between childhood hunger and learning problems. Most educators observed firsthand the negative impact of hunger on concentration, and how it decreased overall academic performance. Kids without proper nutrition are more likely to experience behavior problems, and get sick more often. When asked in recent surveys, some children admitted they were too distracted by hunger to complete their evening homework.
Long-term tolls of childhood hunger are problems that linger. The constant stress and anxiety of this nagging problem can impact a child’s cognitive development as their brains continue to develop. Past studies suggest a child’s mood, concentration, motor skills, and memory can be adversely affected by hunger. The social and emotional skills needed to thrive in a learning environment can also be weakened by poor nutrition.
Kid struggling with hunger can often experience difficulties forming friendships, as well as maintaining proper self-control or following instructions. Also, the stigma of needing assistance for something as basic as food can discourage parents or children from seeking the help they need.
Finally, food insecurity has been worsened by recent bouts with inflation and pandemic-related supply shortages, which caused soaring food prices. This frustrating situation has put a huge dent in most American consumers’ food budget.
The Greencastle School District/Giant Company partnership is a worthwhile endeavor to help alleviate many of these difficult issues associated with childhood hunger. Both organizations seek to help parents cope, and eventually succeed, in the ongoing challenges of raising Franklin County’s future citizens.