Church joins fight against child hunger

FLINT TWP. — Nearly half (48 percent) of children in Michigan receive free or reduced price school lunches because they live in households earning less than $41,000 a year for a family of four, according to a report from Child Hunger in Michigan.

When school is in session those children have a reliable source of meals on weekdays but still face going hungry when not in school.

Food banks, food pantries and other groups have stepped up to try to bridge the gap and so has one local church.

Bristolwood Community of Christ Church, 1158 W. Bristol Road, has volunteered to help by preparing food packages to send home on weekends for several children, according to Dave Swierpel, Carman-Ainsworth Schools Director of Community Education in a report to the school board.

The project started last year with Bristolwood adopting about six needy families at Dillon Elementary School, Swierpel said. This year the church has expanded to 20 the number of families they plan to help.

“Sometimes children when they leave our program where they are getting breakfast, lunch and dinner if they are participating in an afterschool program, on the weekend that (meals) can be a struggle,” he said.

So the church is providing packages of shelf-stable foods that they send home with the children each Friday to help make sure they have something to eat during the weekend.

“That church has just stepped up and called us and said we are going to support 20 families,’’ Swierpel said. “That has been a really good relationship with us.”

Carman-Ainsworth Schools is providing free or reduced-price lunches to 3,633 this school year, which is u p from 3.286 last year, according to Russ Parks, C-A assistant superintendent.

Nearly 25 percent of an estimated 760,000 Michigan children don’t get enough to eat, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

According to Kids Count in Michigan 2012, 30.4 percent of Michigan children — nearly 760,000 – live in households enrolled in the Food Assistance Program (food stamps).

Still, an estimated 24.8 percent of children in Michigan are food insecure, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

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