Hungry children in Polk County

Published 4:11pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Did you know that 852 Polk County children – under age 5 – are living in poverty?  This is equal to 26.5 percent of Polk County’s population or almost 4 ½  school busses full of children. Across North Carolina, 25.5 percent of children under age 5 suffer from the effects of poverty.*

There are a total of 3,761 children in Polk County, under the age of 18, living in poverty. This is 22.1 percent of our population. Or, enough children to fill 170 classrooms – based on 22 students per classroom. It is astonishing that the total number of children in poverty under the age of 18 is more than the total number of children in all of Polk County schools combined.

Poverty is directly linked to hunger. Hunger prevents so many people from living healthy, productive lives. Children who live in households affected by hunger are negatively affected in both their physical and mental development.

This threatens their ability to become productive, contributing members of society when they grow up, which in turn threatens future American prosperity and the prosperity of Polk County.

Every day, families are forced to make the difficult decision between buying food and paying bills and rent. Hundreds of Polk County residents rely on emergency food assistance – and other emergency assistance – from Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry (Outreach) in order to make ends meet.

Since 1991, Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry has served Polk County residents and strives to meet the multiple needs of individuals, children and families living in crisis.

Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry services include providing food through their food pantry and Feed-A-Kid program and helping families facing the loss of their home or utilities being cut off.

This time of year, through the holiday program, Outreach purchases grocery store gift cards and distributes them to eligible individuals and families in need of a special meal.

To learn more about Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, please visit www.tboutreach.or or call 828-894-2988.

* According to a new report by Action for Children North Carolina and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. 

- written by Barry Gold, executive director, Partnership for Children of the Foothills

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