On Oct. 5, Rotary Clubs from Southern Delaware, in conjunction with Delaware State Department of Education, Nutritional Programs, the Harry K Foundation, the Food Bank of Delaware and Clothing our Kids, are presenting the first Feeding & Clothing Our Children Symposium.
The symposium on hunger and clothing needs of school children will be held at Sussex Central High School from 1 to 3 p.m. The symposium will be open to all school counselors, nutritional staff, social workers, administrators and members of the PTOs from across Sussex County and the Milford School District.
According to the Food Bank of Delaware, more than 114,000 Delawareans are “food-insecure,” with 24 percent having a post-high-school education and 30 percent having a household member who is currently serving or has served in the military.
Of those 114,000, 71 percent reported having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities. About 74 percent reported having a person in their household with high blood pressure, while 33 percent reported having a person in their household who has diabetes.
The Delaware Department of Education Nutrition Programs administers several programs that provide healthy food to children, including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child & Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program and the Special Milk Program.
Each of the programs is designed to help fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing organizations such as schools, childcare centers, after-school programs and non-profit organizations for providing healthy meals to children.
In Sussex County, the Harry K Foundation has created 14 school-based pantries in schools and at Delaware Technical Community College In addition, they provide a Back-Pack Program to help sustain students over weekends and holidays, and “Infant Pantries” to address the needs of very young children, and they were also involved with summer bag lunch pick-up sites.
“While this is exciting,” said Raymond Bryant, president of the Georgetown-Millsboro Rotary Club, “it represents only about 25 percent of the over 50 schools in Sussex County.”
Since 2012, Clothing Our Kids, a Millsboro-based nonprofit, has provided more than 82,000 clothing items to more than 15,000 children in Sussex County, he noted.
“The goal of the Feeding & Clothing Our Children Symposium is to ensure all school staff and interested community members learn how these groups are working to guarantee that we have no children who are hungry or in need of clothing and what learn what steps schools can take to establish a food pantry, a backpack program and to secure needed clothing for their students.”
Following the presentations, there will be a short question-and-answer period, and then refreshments in the cafeteria, so staff can get a chance to talk with other colleagues who currently have food pantries and/or are working with Clothing Our Kids, in an effort to create an opportunity to share what they doing and how more children in need can be reached.
“Our goal is to have representatives from each school district in Sussex County and the Milford School District,” Bryant said.