Samantha and Sara
Samantha and Sara, both 10 years of age, attend a local middle school in the Asheville, North Carolina area. Since meeting at the beginning of the semester, they have become fast friends. Their likes and dislikes seem to reflect a mirror image of each other. Samantha loves Justin Bieber but not any more than Sara. Both young ladies love school and enjoy helping each other with homework assignments. This energetic duo maintains a 3.8 GPA and are members of their school’s debate team. Listening to their favorite music is just one of their pleasurable pastimes. Some of their most special moments occur on the school bus ride home where they discuss the events of the school day. Sadly, this is where the similarities end.
Samantha is the first to be dropped off in her middle-class neighborhood. Walking in the door of her modest home, the first words out of her mouth are, “Hi Mom. What’s for dinner?” When Sara exits her bus at the neighborhood drop-off, a neatly manicured mobile home park, she walks to her residence, enters, not uttering a word. No one else is home. Sara has no idea what’s for dinner. In fact, she is not sure if there will be dinner.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in Western North Carolina. There are approximately 41,000 children who are deprived of enjoying food on a regular basis. The schools provide meals to these needy, food insecure children on school days thanks to government subsidies and grants. But what happens when the weekend comes? Some of these children may not see a meal until Monday morning rolls around.
Each Friday during the school year, the MANNA Packs Program sends a 4-5 pound bag of food home to assist families, like Sara’s, to get them through the weekend. In fact, MANNA services 16 counties and 138 schools.
There are also just under 10,000 elders that are food-deprived in the WNC area. Some of them have resorted to eating pet food. Others deprive themselves of their medication in order to pacify their hunger.