By Alana Smith Hunger is a silent hardship. It can strike anyone at any time. The face of hunger in Eatonville may surprise you. It is not the meagerly clothed child with a distended belly that we see in emerging nations. Hunger looks different here, but its consequences are just as devastating. People enduring hunger often have homes, families and, more often than not, jobs. They may be our co-workers, old friends or neighbors who are uncertain where their next meal might come from. Many of us buy food without thinking twice. A quick stop at the grocery store on the way home. A night out at a restaurant with friends. A holiday meal on our family's table. Yet, for some of our neighbors, food is not a given. These families turn to the food bank for assistance. At the Eatonville Family Agency, we believe one hungry neighbor is one too many. Every person deserves nourishment, deserves hope. Most children look forward to weekends and holiday breaks from school, but not if their only meal all day comes from the cafeteria line. A hungry child cannot learn, grow or have fun like a well-nourished child. At the close of last school year, there were 85 backpack children receiving weekend food assistance. We are working to find new ways to fund the program for the upcoming school year. We receive a portion of the backpack food from generous donors in Eatonville and surrounding areas. We still need help supplying enough food for the school year. It is our hope this year to be able to make better use of our backpack funds by buying food in large quantities. If 50 people would be willing to sponsor a child at $50 a month, it would go a long way to feed these children. I believe in a town of Eatonville's size (roughly around 2,800 residents), we can find 50 people that are willing to help our backpack kids. This program provides a lifeline to low-income children and their families, bridging the gap between school meals. With support from our community, local children in need will carry a full tummy instead of the heavy burden of hunger. Stop by the Eatonville Community Center during the month of August, or go online at www.eatonvillefamilyagency.org to sponsor a backpack child.
Alana Smith is executive director of Eatonville Family Agency, which operates a food bank and the weekend backpack food program.