I want to share a thought with you. It’s not a warm and fuzzy thought. No. This is the reality of some families within our community.
School is out. Summer vacation is upon us, and kids are running wild. They are playing, dreaming, hoping the summer would last forever. They are also working up an appetite.
The school districts within El Paso provide breakfast and lunch to many kids who would otherwise not have anything to eat. Families depend on these meals, as meager as they are, to help sustain their children. Now that summer is here; they will be missing meals. That shouldn’t happen at all.
Yes, some schools do provide meals throughout the summer. Not all of them, but some of them. For some families, transportation becomes a problem. Lack of transportation can be enough to keep a child from eating. Again, that shouldn’t happen.
Throughout El Paso, there are groups – such as Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care – who provide meals, and food baskets to individuals and families in need. That need is great.
Each Saturday, YLM provides upwards of 300 food baskets to families and individuals in need. Then Monday to Friday there are those who visit the Mission’s hot meal program to eat what may very well be the only meal they have for the day.
Being able to eat, putting food on the table, is a basic human right. It should not be a privilege that can be snatched away like food stamps. We’ve seen the food stamp program be gutted to balance governmental budgets, but that is hurting people, hurting families and children.
That’s where YLM steps in to fill that ever-widening gap. The way Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care obtains food for distribution is twofold.
The first source of food comes from the El Pasoans Fight Hunger food bank. Each week YLM spends about $200 to purchase food that can be distributed to those in need. The next source is donations of food items. On Friday, if one were to come by the Mission, you would see volunteers working very hard sorting food, and creating the boxes for distribution.
That’s the weekly food giveaway.
Then, Monday to Friday, you have the hot meal program. The food for this is also purchased by the Mission, with occasional donations coming in. The kitchen is open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. The hot meal program does provide lunch, starting at 11:30, for a very nominal price – only $1.50 a plate.
What monies do come from sales are put right back into the program to help feed those who cannot afford to eat.
In the case of those who simply do not have the money to spare, they still eat. The YLM office provides them with a voucher so that they too can have something for the day.
Now, imagine all of this goes away. Where will those people get that one hot meal? With school being out, the numbers begin to swell. How will they be provided for?
What about the individuals and families who come on Saturday mornings for the food boxes? It is a vital part of their pantry at home. What would happen if they were unable to obtain the extra food to help stretch out what they may already have? How many families, how many children would be affected?
The food programs are not the only thing going at YLM. Each year they distribute backpacks and school supplies to children going back to school. There is the Christmas toy drive. There is also the free medical care they host each Saturday. (Yes, FREE medical care provided by RotoCare.) The clinic is free to anyone and everyone. It is open Saturdays. Doors open at 9 am.
So, how can you help?
You can give the Mission a call at 915-858-2588. Or, if you are in El Paso, you can bring your donations to them at 301 S Schutz Drive, off Alameda. You can also find Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care on Facebook or online.
If you would like to give a cash contribution, you can do that as well. You can click here and select the food program, or any other of their other programs, to support. The donation will be tax deductible.
Let’s remember that El Paso is one community. When one person suffers, we all suffer. You never know, the person you may be helping by supporting YLM just may be a neighbor, coworker, or the children you see playing down the street.