'Feeding hungry faces, one smile at a time'
What if you were not confident that you would have food for supper tonight? Or breakfast on Monday morning? Then, what if you were a child, who could do very little to ensure that food would be available and there would be no going to bed hungry this week?

That is called food insecurity and it is real and it is right here in Talladega County and plenty of other places as well all across this country of enormous wealth. Are you willing to help stop this shameful trend of children who worry about food and sometimes do without?

Jim and Linda Jones of Sylacauga decided to do something, and because of their efforts and the cooperation of the schools there they have been providing food for about 225 students each week and they hope to increase that number to 500 when Fayetteville schools join the program soon.

The Jones head up Childhood Food Solutions, a volunteer organization that raises money, buys food, stores it and then distributes it to children in need. All the money raised for CFS goes to getting food to children.

The Jones say they have applied for official nonprofit status and we hope they receive that soon. Such status can be invaluable in raising funds and attracting volunteers to help with the effort.

Each Friday, the 225 children now in the program simply pick up the food at the school office and take home enough for about seven meals—roughly enough to get them through the weekend. The food isn’t fancy. Bread, peanut butter, crackers, and fruit make up a typical bag.

“Our intent with everything we do is to feed the kids. Our motto is ‘Feeding hungry faces, one smile at a time,” said Jim Jones in a story by Emily Adams in Friday’s Daily Home.

“And that’s what we get when we give children the food—a big smile,” he said.

He and his wife and their volunteer organization are fighting a real problem. They estimate that 67% of children in Talladega and Coosa Counties deal with food insecurity at one time or another.

The Jones and other volunteers work with school counselors to identify children in need. At one school, they simply sent a letter home asking parents if they needed help. IF they said yes, then food was made available.

Some families accepted the food for a while, and then sent word that others might benefit more than them. We like to imagine that for some reason their lives improved. Perhaps they found a job, or got a raise. Whatever the reason, they no longer needed the extra food and instead of taking advantage of the system, they made the food available for others who did need it.

Food insecurity can be devastating. For younger children, it is hard to understand, and even harder if they have to go without a meal, or don’t get enough to eat when they do have food in the house.

Continuing food insecurity can lead to health problems, behavioral problems and poor choices that often lead to difficulties for the child, according to Childhood Food Solutions. It doesn’t take all that much money—about $20 per month—to make the weekend food packages available for one child.

Childhood Food Solutions is addressing a real problem in our community. We encourage them to continue working on that official nonprofit status and to continue the good work they are doing.

The economic recession we experienced, and the effects which are still with us, put many people in difficult circumstances. Often, those folks were not used to needing help, they had supported themselves and their children and had expected to always be able to do that. But, times do change, and so do needs.

We know of other, similar programs that provide food for children on weekends. In Calhoun County, Blessings in a Backpack provides essentially the same service that CFS does in Sylacauga. And area churches here and all across the Coosa Valley area provide food for the hungry. Those efforts are meaningful symbols of communities that work hard to take care of the less fortunate among them.

We say thanks to all those who work to feed the hungry, especially hungry children. And we encourage those in our community to take a look at CFS in Sylacauga, and if their work makes sense to you, as it does to us, then find a few dollars for them each month.

Jones and the other volunteers will see a smile when they deliver the food package to a child. And that child will not be hungry that weekend.

© 2013