The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 16, 2014

My Turn: The LOVE Project


The Daily Item

— I love winter and I’ve been rejoicing in the snowy cold. But I find my joy is lessened these days. It started in November when my congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley, began raising funds for the Caring for Kids program that helps feed hungry kids in the Shikellamy schools.  Now when we have a snow day, I worry about the kids who aren’t eating. Before that, it never crossed my mind that kids in our Valley went without food.

Hungry kids here? Sadly, yes.

You may remember UUCSV’s Love Flows project which sent funds, workers and a party to Staten Island Relief Workers last May. This year, we decided to put our resources to work locally.

With cuts in SNAP support and unemployment benefits, more people are going hungry. We first thought to focus on food pantries, raising money and providing them greater visibility to increase their allies and supporters. We’re improving our web site, listing all the available pantries and free meals (If you’re offering food support there will be a form that allows you to add your option to the list.). The web site will get fancier, but right now you can still donate and help your valley out. Read on and see why you might want to do that.

In our Valley, one of every two children qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch. Many children live in homes where there is not enough food on the weekend. Caring for Kids is a backpack program at Chief Shikellamy and Beck elementary schools — two schools where more than 70 percent of the kids receive free or reduced-price lunches. Each Friday, the backpack program gives the kids food to eat over the weekend.

A group of dedicated teachers and administrators at Shik started Caring for Kids for a handful of students. Today, they’re feeding 500 kids and have just expanded into the middle school. Other school districts in our Valley are beginning to develop similar programs. We want to help.

In November, UUCSV started the LOVE Project, standing for Let Our Valley Eat. So far, we have raised more than $10,000 to support food pantries in Northumberland and Snyder counties, as well as the Caring for Kids program. But we’re just getting started and there’s so much more help that’s needed.

We know we can’t do it all ourselves. We know many of you are already doing wonderful work. We’d like to encourage other religious and nonprofit organizations, as well as local businesses, to work together to help build a food support network in the Valley. Our web site (www.loveflows.net) has more information about where you can go and what you can do to help.

There are so many worthwhile causes and so many ways to help feed people — and they all need our support. As for me, I find my attention caught by the plight of hungry children and the desire to help develop backpack programs at every school in the Valley. Here are the figures:

Caring for Kids spends about $1.25 per child per weekend. You can feed a classroom for a weekend for about $30, or feed a student for an entire school year for about $50. We’d like your help investing in the future of this Valley and ensuring that no child goes a weekend without food. Imagine — a Valley where no child goes hungry. And then imagine that you live there. Now let’s get to work and help make it a reality.  

Please visit www.loveflows.net to donate and learn how you can help (or send your check payable to UUCSV at LOVE Project c/o UUCSV, 265 Point Township Drive, Suite A, Northumberland, PA 17857).

Ann Keeler Evans, M.Div., is the Minister at Unitaritan Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley.