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AmeriCorps Alum & Network of Community Ministries Struggle to Meet Food Needs

Monday, June 9, 2008   (0 Comments)
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Network of Community Ministries struggles to meet food needs

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, June 1, 2008


By CHRIS COATS Chris Coats is a freelance writer in Richardson.

Amber Stewart is on a mission – that no child goes to bed this summer hungry.

As director of emergency services at Network of Community Ministries in Richardson, she faces a problem in reaching her goal – the cupboard is bare. On top of that, with Richardson school district classes ending Wednesday, kids who were on free lunch programs will no longer be able to count on that one meal a day.

"Sixty percent of the children that go to RISD live below the poverty line," Ms. Stewart said. "Right now we don't have enough food to feed their families breakfast and dinner. Add lunch and I'm afraid there'll be a huge number of kids that will sit down to empty plates during the summer. We want to prevent that from happening."

Network is a nonprofit organization that assists the families with food and financially in the same communities that attend RISD schools. That includes Richardson, and areas of Garland and Dallas.

A big obstacle for helping the needy has been the decline in donations. She attributes that to the economy – unemployment, high gas prices and corporate cutbacks.

"Donations are always down during the summer," she said. "By August, we typically have to go out and buy food. But starting in May we've already been faced with bare cupboards and having to buy food. We still can't meet the demands of all of the hungry people out there and don't have the funding to do it either."

The organization distributes more than 10,000 pounds of food a week. Network is reaching out to the public and businesses for donations whether it's monetary or food. Ms. Stewart said the biggest needs are basics such as canned meats, canned fruits, rice, beans and pastas.

"Just basics that wouldn't cost you but an extra dollar to throw it into your grocery cart," she said. "By the time clients hit our doors, they are malnourished."

She said that's especially true for the kids who count on that one free meal a day that will disappear next week.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can to get children's stomachs full this summer," she said. "I'm determined that no kids or families will go to bed hungry."

For information on how to make a donation to Network of Community Ministries, call 972-234-8880. Donations also can be dropped off at its facility at 741. S. Sherman St. in Richardson.

Chris Coats is a freelance writer in Richardson

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