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Hunger exists right here in Middletown; help fight it: Editorial

Posted 10/24/17

We have people going hungry in Middletown. Many of them are students.

Look at three recent stories in the Press & Journal, about the RaiderPacks program, the Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund and …

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Hunger exists right here in Middletown; help fight it: Editorial

Posted

We have people going hungry in Middletown. Many of them are students.

Look at three recent stories in the Press & Journal, about the RaiderPacks program, the Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund and the free Sharing Pantry. All three projects address hunger.

One in every seven students in the Middletown Area School District, about 350, have enrolled in the new RaiderPacks program, which seeks to provide food to get needy students through the weekends when they are not in school eating school breakfasts and lunches. Those students come from about 200 families, and the enrollment continues to grow.

RaiderPacks will provide backpacks full of food for the weekend to families in need that apply to the program. Each student will receive a bag of food each week. Bags will include breakfast, lunch and snack options, including fruits and vegetables.

RaiderPacks is partnering with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and with Middletown Area Blue Raider Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that raises money to support various school district programs and initiatives.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to help out these students. RaiderPacks says that a $3.52 donation can feed one student for one weekend, and a donation of about $124 is enough to feed one student every weekend for the rest of this school year.

The Charlotte Chubb Memorial Fund, approved by the school board on Aug. 28, will receive donations from the community that go toward ensuring that the families of all children in the school district have money to cover the cost of a student lunch each day.

You might not know who Chubb is, but Jim Hoffman sure did. The Middletown resident was inspired by Chubb, who spent her career as a cafeteria worker at the former Feaser Middle School in Middletown. After her death in 2015, her children learned that their mother for years while at Feaser had been quietly loaning money to kids who didn’t have enough to buy lunch.

The issue of “lunch shaming” — stigmatizing students who don’t have enough money to pay for meals — has grown in the last year. This fund will address that.

While hunger obviously affects adults and children, it is the young people who can suffer more. Studies have shown that if children don’t get proper nutrition, their brains won’t mature in the same way as their peers who aren’t going hungry. These youngsters get their best meals through reduced-price school food. 

But there is a need past just reduced prices. So we say, kudos to Hoffman as well as Kunkel Elementary School teachers Marta Monroig and Cindy McLaughlin. They are leading the RaiderPacks initiative.

“I knew the need was there, I knew the need was great. But I truly didn’t realize that the need was as great as it was,” McLaughlin told us. And she is not some new teacher. She is in her 31st year teaching in the district.

And let’s not forget the free Sharing Pantry now open at the entrance to the borough police station on East Emaus Street.

Borough resident Linda Osifat came up with the idea based on other such locations in the United States. 

The free pantry is open all the time to provide basic food items and can also be stocked with non-food items like toothbrushes, deodorant, and sanitary napkins. All the items are provided through the generosity of residents. The doors to the cabinet simply say: “take what you need; give what you can.” That’s a worthy sentiment indeed.

We are highlighting these programs because they are new. There are also many other established efforts in the region that do great work. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves 27 counties. 

Go to its website at centralpafoodbank.org. You can find information on its Oct. 29 fundraiser called Taste of Central Pennsylvania. It will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Strawberry Square.

It also lists three partner agencies in the 17057 area code: Middletown Interfaith Pantry can be reached at 717-944-5668. Glad Tidings Assembly of God can be reached at 717-944-1042. Fountain Of Life Ministries Inc. can be reached at 717-944-4455.

LaVonne Ackerman also often lists free local meals in her column that usually appears on page A2 of the Press & Journal.

The challenge of hunger might seem daunting, but McLaughlin and Monroig are hopeful.

“Middletown has always supported Middletown,” McLaughlin said.

“We want people to think of it as just the community coming together. We want all of us to be successful and to grow,” Monroig said.

We wish all of these efforts the best, not only during the upcoming holiday season — when more people seem to help — but the entire year.

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