By Mike Pound
When I was in school, I used to spend time thinking of food instead of thinking about whatever subject the teacher was yammering about.
At the time, I thought I was hungry, and I guess to a degree I was. But I know now that I wasn’t really hungry. It wasn’t the sort of hungry that comes from not having breakfast or much of a dinner the night before. I was “Gee, I could sure use a cookie” hungry. I wasn’t “I will eat whatever they put in front of me” hungry.
You don’t think of these sorts of things much when you’re a kid, but I’m pretty sure that sitting in the same classroom while I was “I could use a cookie” hungry was a kid who was “I will eat whatever they put in front of me” hungry.
The thing is, whenever I got a bit hungry and started thinking about food, I didn’t think about school. I mean, who wants to think about square roots when you have cookies on the brain? I can’t imagine how tough it was to think about school work when you were really, really hungry. I’m guessing that a well-fed kid has a distinct academic advantage over a kid who hasn’t eaten much in the past 24 hours.
Because of those school memories, I’m a big supporter of local backpack programs.
Many area school districts have been instituting backpack programs to help feed kids who need the help through the weekend. Each Friday, students who have been identified by teachers and school staff members are given a backpack filled with nutritional foods and snacks to take home for the weekend.
I attended a news conference last year in Joplin and heard stories about kids lining up at school early on Monday mornings so they could get breakfast. I was told that in many cases, Monday morning breakfast was the kids’ first real meal since their school lunch the previous Friday.
I suppose you could get into the argument over whose responsibility it is to feed children, but nobody ever seems to win that argument, and meanwhile the kids are still hungry. I think it’s better, instead, to try to feed the kids.
This morning, the folks at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage will be working to help feed kids. The hospital’s Health Care Foundation is holding a fundraiser for Bright Futures of Carthage, which administers the Carthage School District’s backpack program. From 10 a.m. until noon, a continental breakfast is being served at 1522 River St. for folks who want to stop by and drop off a donation.
The donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the foundation, meaning a $25 donation would become a $50 donation.
The link between McCune-Brooks and the backpack program is a no-brainer. I mean, who better to help see to it that kids get enough to eat than a local hospital? In a statement, the McCune-Brooks Foundation noted that the backpack program is consistent with its mission statement, which includes supporting efforts that “directly contribute to better health and healthy lifestyles for the citizens of Carthage.”
If you can’t attend this morning’s event in Carthage but would still like to contribute to the backpack program, you can mail your donation to McCune-Brooks Foundation, P.O. Box 734, Carthage MO 64836.
If you don’t live in Carthage but want to help fund a backpack program in your community, contact your local school district for information.
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