Feeding Hawai‘i’s children and honoring momsPosted on Apr 26, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Childhood hunger isn’t a problem just for Third World countries. It’s a stark, new reality for many of Hawai‘i’s children in the wake of the pandemic. For the first time, Hawai‘i is among the top 10 states with the highest child food insecurity, according to Feeding America projections. One recent UH study reported that nearly half of Hawai‘i families are still struggling to put food on the table — despite the state’s expansion of federally funded programs such as SNAP and P-EBT, as well as community efforts.
First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige has made food insecurity one of her top issues and led a recent discussion of the problem among First Spouses for the National Governors Association. “The challenge is reaching families who need it the most,” she said. “We want people to know about the connection between SNAP, EBT cards and the free and reduced lunch program through the schools.” The number of children in SNAP households can also help a school extend free school meals to all students. “If someone knows a family who could be eligible, they can get help through the schools to apply,” she explained. Although the school year ends May 28, there are multiple school sites that will continue summer food service programs, thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture funding. Other community organizations with summer programs also provide meals to children.
For her May book choice, Mrs. Ige will be reading “A Chair for My Mother,” which will air May 19 on ‘Olelo Channel 53, then repeat on May 23, June 6 and 13. It tells the story of a girl who saves money to buy her mother a comfortable chair so she can rest after her shift as a waitress. Mrs. Ige said the book reminded her of her own mother who worked long hours as a Campbell High School cafeteria baker. “Maybe that’s where my interest in providing food through the schools comes from,” she said. “I always admired my mom’s strength and commitment to her job.” As a former teacher, the First Lady added, “I look for books with a message I want to share and words that paint a picture. I want children to get lost in the story. That way they can truly appreciate the literature.”