As schools around the state let out for summer vacation, families who rely on food stamps and free school lunch to feed their children may be facing difficulty in the coming months.
Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless (HFTH) aims to change that by providing meals to needy children in the Atlanta area over the summer.
The organization held a press conference on June 4 to increase awareness of the Farm Bill that is now being assessed by the US government. The Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that regulates agricultural subsidies and funds nutrition assistance programs.
“If the Farm Bill cuts go through it would be horrific to the communities across the country of all races, and religions that depend on food stamps, especially seniors and students,” says Elisabeth Omilami, president and CEO of Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. “Over two million people who are currently getting food stamps will be cut. It will increase food requests from non-profit organizations whom are already overburdened, and it will increase poor health among Americans who rely on food stamps.”
If passed in its current form in the House of Representatives, the bill would cut significant funds from Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), previously called food stamps, received by Americans and also change the way people qualify for assistance.
“The summer can be a scary time for some kids and their families,” says Omilami. “In many communities children are on free breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. That means they receive at least one healthy meal a day. During the summer kids are often home all day without any food at all. This summer we will stand in the gap and make sure our children have access to healthy meals.”
According to the AJC, nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s population is on food stamps and 60 percent of Georgia public school students receive free or reduced lunches.
Hosea Feed the Hungry’s summer feeding program will offer non-perishable items including rice, tuna, grits, corn and green beans, and fresh produce is provided once a month. Food boxes can be picked up from 1035 Donnelly Ave in southwest Atlanta on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Families also have the option of having food delivered to them some Saturdays.
“I think it is a good benefit to the children,” says Earnestine Cusack, an HFTH food pantry volunteer. “The children who do come in are very accepting of the services that are offered and they walk away with a smile on their face. It’s an important part of the community.”
The organization will hold a summer feeding program where families can pick up food items to bring home. The foundation is focused on children this summer, which is why bagged lunches will be distributed to children in underprivileged communities.
While the organization has protested the proposed changes to the Farm Bill, Philip Hogan, director of Human Services at HFTH, says the organization’s mission will not be dictated by it.
“We are going to be serving about 300 children,” said Hogan. “We will be providing our food services throughout the summer regardless if the cuts go through or not.”
To find out how to donate visit 4hosea.org.