Gordmans and the organization Share Our Strength, whhich runs a No Kid Hungry campaign, have teamed up in the battle against childhood hunger, which the charity says now affects 13 million children in the country.
With most area schools back in session, the department store is helping with the cause by encouraging customers to purchase specially-themed back to school items, with Gordmans making a contribution in the sales to No Kid Hungry.
Pam Wilson is the Hillsboro Gordmans manager, and said its corporate goal was to raise $100,000 in the back to school program.
“No Kid Hungry is a national effort to insure that children all across America have access to nutritious meals,” she said. “We have some really cute kids lunchboxes, backpacks and water bottles, and Gordmans will donate 50 percent of all the retail sales proceeds to the No Kid Hungry program.”
Gordmans will also donate a dollar for each social media posting with the hashtag #fuel kids futures, with the company adding that with just $5, No Kid Hungry can provide up to 50 meals to children.
Wilson said that in addition to the 13 million children who live with hunger on a daily basis, another 22 million rely on free or reduced price lunches, and in many cases, lunch is the last meal of the day some children will have.
As a mother of three, Wilson said it’s sad that in the most prosperous country in the world childhood hunger would be the problem that it is, and No Kid Hungry furnished sobering statistics including:
• One in six children in the United States lives with hunger, and it is a problem that most often affects low-income families.
• Nearly 18 percent of children under the age of 18 live in households that experienced limited or uncertain availability of safe, nutritious food at some point during the year.
• Almost 16 percent of children in each state participated in the summer meals programs, based on the number of low-income students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year.
• Forty-five million Americans rely on benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides low-income families with money to purchase food, according to the USDA, and two-thirds of those benefits go to households with children.
During the government shutdown that occurred earlier this year, Highland County Job & Family Services Director Katie Adams said that there were morethan 3,000 local households receiving SNAP benefits.
A common way to measure poverty is the federal poverty level, which No Kid Hungry said is the minimum amount of money a family needs each year to afford the necessities of life, which are food, clothing, shelter and transportation.
Last year, the federal poverty level was $25,750 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The U.S. Census Bureau, in figures from 2017, showed that nearly 40 million people — 12 percent of the American population — lived in poverty, and that of that number, more than 13 million were children.
In today’s economy, the Census Bureau noted, a family of four making $50,000 annually is still considered low-income by most experts and for many, it can be a daily struggle to make ends meet.
Two of Wilson’s children are in the Hillsboro City Schools system, one being a teacher and the other a senior who will graduate in the class of 2020. She said in conversations with them she has heard first-hand about the problem, from both the perspective of a teacher and a student.
“It’s just so sad,” she said. “Kid’s should not have to go hungry, ever — especially in this country.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.