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Snow Days are not ‘Vacation Days’ for low-income families

Snow Days often mean lack of food for children from low-income families.
Snow Days often mean lack of food for children from low-income families.

Right now in Kansas City, we are still experiencing the effects of “Snowmageddon”, “Winter Blast”, etc. Our area sustained approximately over a foot of snow since Tuesday morning, and the frigid temperatures are not allowing melting of any kind. Side roads and residential roads still have yet to be plowed, here on Thursday afternoon. For those of us who are blessed enough to have been able to prepare for the artic onslaught, we are in our homes with working utilities, a deep food supply, and even firewood in the fireplace in case the power goes out. We are the fortunate ones. Hundreds of other families are not so blessed.

One example is the Kesler family. Jonathan Kesler has a wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and has been looking for a steady job. The family’s utilities were shut off three months ago (Adler 1). When these snow days began, Kesler and his wife had to answer some important questions: How do we keep our daughters warm? Fed? Cared for when the parents leave for work? They resorted to calling a grandparent in Leavenworth to take the girls someplace safe with heat and food (Adler1).

Most people are unaware of how ‘Snow Days’ can devastate a family, especially when a community experiences several days in a row. Today, Thursday, Feb 6, all of the Kansas City area schools are closed for a third day. This is not just an inconvenience for families who depend on free and reduced breakfast and lunches for their children. For these families, the free and reduced lunch program is a salvation that sometimes is the only nourishment some children get every day. This does not even include the concept of heat.

Kesler said that when his daughters are in school, “at least I know they’re warm and getting fed” (Adler 1). With a family’s utilities being shut off, weather conditions like this can be downright dangerous.

Another beneficial program that helps children from low-income families is the BackSnack program which provides food for children over the weekends until they can get back to school and continue receiving the free and reduced breakfast and lunches that keep them able to learn and thrive in school. “On weekends, when kids aren’t being fed at school, Harvesters’ BackSnack program serves around 19,000 children in a 26-county area. The program provides students with breakfasts, two other meals and snacks to tide them over until school resumes on Monday. For them, snow days can mean days in a row with little to eat” (Adler 1).

So, while many school-aged kiddos are celebrating these multiple snow days, some families are in dire need of help to get by regarding utilities, food and childcare. It is never a bad idea to use today’s Snow Day to find out how you can help a family in need and set an example to your own kids regarding altruism and caring for others.

Adler, Eric. “Snow Days Can Be Miserable for Low-Income Families.” The Kansas City Star. February 5, 2014.

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