Group raises awareness as one in four Florence County students go without weekend meals

Childhood Hunger Awareness

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Childhood hunger affects millions of children every day across the country and in our own communities. The non-profit organization called “Help 4 Kids Florence” is working to change that with a Childhood Hunger Awareness week and food drives.

“One in four children in Florence County is at risk for hunger on the weekends,” board member Paula Turner said. “Some of the children even share their food with the siblings because they do not have enough.”

Since 2013, Turner said the nonprofit has prepared nutritious meals for students across Florence County to take home on the weekends. Currently, they bag 2,300 meals every week.

“Vienna sausage, a pack of noodles, two packs grits or oatmeal,” she said.

The service came after realizing the effects of hunger children dealt with at home lingering into the classrooms. Dr. Alice Grice, Brockington Elementary Instructional Coach, has seen first-hand how the organization has helped change that.

“They are more attentive and less likely to behave inappropriately and they perform better when they are not hungry,” Grice said.

The organization relies solely on monetary and food donations along with volunteers.

The non-profit is holding their hunger awareness week in the midst of a government shutdown where many families are more at risk of losing their benefits for federal food assistance programs. Turner said while they haven't had any concerns yet, they are aware of its potential impact and encourages those in need to contact their child's school counselor.

"Once we started delivering the bags to the children, their attention span increase and they didn't have behavioral problems in the classroom so it does cause an inability to think and an inability to learn," Turner said.

“The snack bags are certainly appreciated. The students look forward to them and they really just help the students are in need to nutrition on the weekends,” Grice said.

The organization is holding their annual Vienna Sausage food drive this week. Anyone wanting to donate can drop off cans at their local schools or KJ’s Market IGA stores.

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