WHNT NEWS 19 Taking Action to help children struggling with hunger

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s not something people like to think  about, but it’s definitely something we can’t ignore. Children in our community are struggling with hunger – skipping meals or not eating at all because their parents can’t afford food. The Food Bank of North Alabama is working to solve that problem.  One way is to connect local farmers with area school systems.

Will Scott is a 5th generation fruit farmer. Scott’s Orchard is part of the food bank’s Farm Food Collaborative and takes pride in exposing kids to good, locally grown produce.

“We enjoy giving them the freshest apples they can get,” says Scott. “There’s so much processed food in our world today and I think we overlook the value that fresh fruits and vegetables give.”

On this day, Scott is dropping off apples at Legacy Elementary School in Madison. He delivered one bushel each of Gala and Ozark Gold apples. That’s a total of 84 pounds of crisp, fresh produce that after being washed and dried, will be handed out to kids. It’s an exciting thing for the Food Bank’s local food coordinator Lee McBride to witness.

“When I see a smile of a small child who has a fresh apple that has not had one before, that’s incredible,” describes McBride.

It’s also a healthy treat, that according to Barbara Haugtvedt, they may not get otherwise.

“It’s very upsetting,” says Haugtvedt. “We realize that the meals that these children eat with us during the day, breakfast and lunch, may be the only meals they eat.”

Haugtvedt is the child nutrition program supervisor for Madison County Schools and says the hunger issues are evident on a daily basis.

“They will be crying because they’re hungry and they don’t have food,” says Haugtvedt. “Our free and reduced lunch program has risen by about 10 percent in the last ten  years of people, just in the Madison County School system, that qualify.”

That increase is why their role of providing nutritious food and teaching kids to eat healthy is so critical.

“We have areas that are quite disturbing when you look at the number of children that do not eat,” describes Haugtvedt. “We take it very, very seriously that we offer them the best of everything when they’re with us because it might be all they get.”

It’s difficult, but so important for us to hear and do something about. As you may have heard by now, I’m expecting my first child. I’m using this exciting time to bring attention to the issue of child hunger in our community.

WHNT NEWS is Taking Action and challenging our viewers to guess the sex by donating to the Food Bank of North Alabama. Tell us if you think it’s a boy or girl with your dollars! Please help us spread the word on social media.

The big gender reveal is this Thursday, August 27th on WHNT NEWS 19 at 6:00pm.