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Back to school means back to two square meals, for some

By Mary Catherine Hinds/Religion News Service
On September 7, 2015

Some students will get free balanced breakfast and lunch meals under the National School Lunch Program.
Credit: fns.usda.gov

Facebook feeds are now full of first day of school pictures and updates about how happy everyone is to be finally sending the kids back.

My fellow working parents and I are breathing a collective sigh of relief that we managed to cover child care all summer long. On the flip side, stay-at-home parents are looking forward to getting their homes back during the day. We are all excited to be back on a schedule with routine.

This morning as I flipped pancakes to fill my children’s bellies before we headed out the door, I thought how excited I am to be sending them back to school and out of my hair. Then I thought of some other mothers and fathers who were undoubtedly rejoicing for other reasons.

Some moms and dads are overjoyed because after a long summer break, their children are now going to get a free breakfast and lunch every weekday at school. As I juggled camps and vacation days this summer, other mothers were juggling paychecks, trying to feed their children without the free-lunch subsidies that exist during the school year.

I work for Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency. As I think about my neighbors celebrating nutrition as part of back-to-school, I also see the faces of parents in Cambodia, Bolivia, Serbia – parents who are celebrating back-to-school because for them, education is hope. Education is opportunity. Education is a permanent solution to hunger and severe malnutrition. These parents celebrate school every day.

After the dust settles on the frantic first weeks of school, my family and I will start to do something to help the other mothers and fathers out there for whom school means life. We will set up a CROP Hunger Walk team for our church and start recruiting walkers and raising funds for our annual CROP Hunger Walk.

The CROP Hunger Walk is our community’s response to end hunger and poverty in our city and around the world. The funds we raise will send backpacks of food home on Fridays with classmates of my own children while also providing safe schools for children in some of the poorest countries in the world.

There are about 1,200 CROP Hunger Walks each year across the U.S. While individuals participate and are welcome, faith communities are the key to organizing them.

With each step we take, we will give thanks for our own blessings and, as people of faith, answer a call to share these blessings with others so that all will be nourished.

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