May 31, 2018 10:29:31 AM
Last week meant the end of the school year for K-12 kids in Mississippi, Fortunately, it won't be the end of having regular meals.
Through funds provided by the US Department of Agriculture, students who rely on free breakfasts and lunches during the school year will be provided those meals through the summer.
Both the Columbus Municipal School District and the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will open school cafeterias to provide breakfasts and lunches to any child under age 18 regardless of whether or not they attend school in the district.
The national program is especially important in Mississippi, where almost 13 million struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
Last year, Columbus and Starkville schools provided 43,000 meals over the summer and organizers expect to provide a similar number of meals this year.
That so many of our children must rely on these meals should stir our consciences and call us to action.
Anyone who believes that this program, as vitally important as it may be, is a solution suffers from a diminished sense of empathy. Children get hungry on weekends, too, and as important as these breakfasts and lunches are, it does nothing to prevent a child from going to bed hungry at night.
That reality should both break and open our hearts.
There are many who work tirelessly in our community to combat child hunger. Backpack programs that provide children with food they can easily prepare for themselves over the weekend is an act of mercy. Others in different ways and on different scales do what they can to feed our poor children.
But the majority of us do nothing or, at least, do nothing consistently.
We urge every citizen to take up this important cause. Contact your area charities, your civic groups, your churches. They may have feeding programs that need your contribution, whether it be financial or as a volunteer.
If you can't find such a program, start one yourself.
"Nothing can be done," is true only if we choose to do nothing.
Somewhere tonight in our community, a child will go to bed hungry.
If you're not OK with that, consider this a call to conscience -- and to action.
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