Marion-Polk Foodshare is sending a challenge to 3900 locals concerned about child hunger. All are invited to participate in a half-hour civic action on September 5 during downtown Salem’s First Wednesday.
Women Ending Hunger, an auxiliary of the Foodshare, is holding the event for the third September in a row, in an effort to raise awareness that over 39,000 children in Marion and Polk counties rely on free or reduced-priced lunches at school, often as their sole full, healthy meal of the day.
Kat Daniels, program director for Women Ending Hunger, says, “We feel like this is a message that we need to shout from the rooftops. 39,000 hungry children are 39,000 too many!”
Hungry children miss more school and have more health and behavioral problems than other children. When they fall behind, Daniels says, they are too often left behind.
Since it’s not easy to visualize 39,000 children, the action has 3900 volunteers stand in a line across six blocks of downtown holding empty plates, from the State Capitol westward, to help commuters, businesses and visitors imagine what ten times that many children represent.
“We know this is an image with impact,” Daniels says, “[Child hunger in our community] is a quiet catastrophe that we can prevent.” Interested persons should spread the word to friends and family and be prepared to bring an empty plate and wear red. Importantly, they should also contact Daniels in advance at the Marion-Polk Foodshare site.