A recent report shows almost 15 percent of American households are struggling to put food on the tables, and the economy sure doesn’t help. As numbers continue to rise, President Obama has a goal to end childhood hunger by 2015. With this, mayors from 24 different cities around the nation are participating in initiatives to attack childhood hunger. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was selected to join in the “Childhood Anti-Hunger Program in 24 Cities” program.
“12.5 million children in our country do not know where their next full meal will come from, or if they will have one. So, what we have done here in the Lowcountry, in Charleston and adjacent communities, working very closely with organizations to try to successfully combat that. So, the city submitted its best practices what is going on here in the Charleston area and so we were selected as one of the 24 with initiatives,” says Riley.
Some of those initiatives include: “Our Lowcountry Food Bank that serves coastal South Carolina. Among other things they sponsor the Kids Cafe Program which provided last year 104,000 hot, nutritious meals for kids that wouldn’t have that, and also their BackPack Buddies’ Program that provides healthy snacks for children who suffer from inadequate, weakened nutrition,” says Riley.
Among other initiatives, Charleston and other cities are also educating parents and building on existing programs. Riley says it’s all an effort to respond to the president’s call for action.
“To respond to President Obama’s challenge, which is that we eliminate childhood hunger in America by 2015. It’s the fact that we have many non-profits, governments working together to reduce the number of children in our community who the term is have low food security, that is they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” says Riley.
Compared to the rest of the nation, Riley says Charleston is not as bad as other cities, but hunger is still a growing problem in the Holy City.
“We’re all unfortunately experiencing the economic recession, so we are thankful that here in the Lowcountry our economy is doing better than many in the country, but not withstanding that, we have very high unemployment rates here. There are certainly cities that are a lot worse off than we are, but if we have hungry children in the Lowcountry, the citizens of the Lowcountry have worked hard to make sure we combat that,” says Riley.
The program is funded by the Sodexo Foundation, which is a leading provider for health care, long term care, retirement, schools, higher education, government and remote sites.