When school is out for the summer, many of the almost 14,000 children in north and east King County who qualify for free or reduced cost meals during the school year may go hungry.
Hopelink, the largest social services agency serving east and north King County, launches its annual “End Summer Hunger” fund and food drives this month. Presenting sponsor Expedia invites community groups, schools, businesses and our neighbors throughout the area to join in now through August and do their part to ease hunger and homelessness among our communities’ children and families.
The recession has sent an alarming number of families deeper into crisis, or into financial distress for the first time. Hopelink’s services have never been more necessary, particularly when it comes to feeding hungry children. Hopelink’s food banks served 22 percent more households in 2009 than in 2008 and the need continues. The proceeds from End Summer Hunger will stock Hopelink’s five food banks for the high-demand summer months when subsidized meal programs at schools are not available and parents need more food to fill their children’s stomachs. End Summer Hunger donations also support Hopelink’s homelessness prevention programs for families. In 2009, the End Summer Hunger campaign raised more than $160,000 in cash and more than $120,000 in food donations.
Nearly 15 percent (over 14,000) of the children in school districts in Hopelink’s service areas in north and east King County qualify for free or reduced cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year. Even with the help of these at-school meal programs, parents of those children struggle to meet their families’ nutrition and other basic needs. When the subsidized meal programs are not available, parents experience an even greater strain on their already stressed household budgets, and rely much more heavily on food banks to provide nutritious food for their children. Families with two working parents or a single parent who works must also find ways to pay for summer daycare for younger children, further straining the family budget. This strain sometimes even leads to an inability to pay rent or the mortgage, putting the family at risk for homelessness.
The grassroots End Summer Hunger campaign began March 1 and ends August 31, and seeks support from schools, individuals, businesses, and organizations. This program is particularly important because donations to Hopelink historically drop during the summer. Schools that support the program encourage children in classrooms to collect coins, while businesses, organizations and civic or community clubs hold food drives, fund drives, or both, according to what works best for them.Kenmore Junior High School was the first school to complete their End Summer Hunger drive this year. The school’s ASB (student government), with assistance from school staff and the PTSA, organized a competition that brought in more than 12,000 food items (7,933 pounds) and $11,899 to Hopelink. The agency is looking forward to many more successful drives this season.
Expedia is the presenting sponsor for End Summer Hunger 2010. Additional sponsors include Univar, First Tech Credit Union, Labor Ready, Tecplot, Nintendo of America Inc., Pacific Construction Systems, Signature Landscape Services Inc., Door-to-Door Storage, Concur Technologies, Inc. and BECU. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Kristina Kenck atKKenck@hope-link.org
For information on how to get involved in End Summer Hunger, go to www.hope-link.org.