As Thanksgiving approaches, we may consider what we are thankful for. One thing many families will thank this year is the food on their table. But we can’t forget about the other sources of food that nourish our families. For our children, one of the most notable sources is the breakfast and lunch they are provided during school. These meals are often dependent on funding from the federal government. Justification for this funding primarily comes from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Therefore, participating in the Census has a direct effect on your family and neighbors. Without an accurate population count, of both adults and children, programs that feed our children may not have enough funding to provide for everyone in need.
Even if your child does not participate in these programs, it affects more than 67% of children in WV. WV even ranks No. 1 in the nation in school breakfast participation. Listen to the stories of mothers connected to this issue to understand why this issue is so important:
“I have five children in school and seven [children] total. My husband is a professor at Marshall, and recently got a second job, but we still have to worry about food. It shouldn’t be that way. Our budget is very tight and our food budget is small. Our kids eat the school breakfast and lunch. It’s available to all students in our county and I’m so grateful.
“During the summer we take advantage of the free lunches for kids because it gives us more wiggle room in our budget. Really, I don’t know how we would have made it work these last few years if our kids didn’t have the food from school. It’s been a great blessing. They certainly would not be starving, but I feel like I can be more health conscious in our choices [at home].”
– A Huntington Mother
“I’m a single mom. I have 3 kids at home; one is an adult with disabilities and two are in middle school. I [also] have two young adult kids who recently left home. We live on my small income, the majority of it going to housing, car, utility and medical costs. I have very little money to go towards food.
“My children, including my two outside of the home, got meals at school and, in the summer, we would use the summer programs. There were times I didn’t even have the gas to get them there. The girls are signed up for the Backpack Program for additional food over the weekends and holidays, along with food pantries at their school. [One of my children] also has food allergies and health issues that is better treated with a special diet, which I cannot always afford. I make a lot [of food] from scratch but even that is hard financially.
My kids would love to have packed lunches like others but we simply cannot afford to do that. It’s hard when you are trying to feed your family and can’t really do it well or healthy. When I have to tell my daughter that I can’t pack her a lunch because we just don’t have the food for it, it hurts.”
– A Buckhannon Mother
The results of the Census affects the lives of those around us. That’s why we need YOU to commit to #CountMeInWV and participate in the 2020 Census next year! Pledge to participate in the 2020 Census and follow the Count Me In Coalition for updates on the Census and notifications for when you need to be involved.
Thank you again to the women who shared their stories. We hope you will share this story with someone you know.