Fighting Child Hunger in South Georgia

Report by by Kara Duffy, WCTV News  (VIDEO)

For the first time in more than a decade, Georgia has ranked among the top ten worst states with the highest percentage of children living in poverty.   According to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state ranked sixth in the nation.  Unfortunately with higher childhood poverty rates, there’s also higher childhood hunger rates.

According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap Study, one in three children in South Georgia live in homes where having enough food is an everyday struggle.  That means more than 56,000 kids go to bed hungry every night.

“A lot of families are one job loss, one medical emergency away from not having enough to eat everyday,” said Eliza McCall, the Chief Marketing Officer for the Second Harvest of South Georgia. McCall and other officials from the Second Harvest of South Georgia are hoping to combat that problem with their new regional distribution center located in Thomasville.

Construction is officially underway on the 65,000 square foot warehouse, which will allow organizers to feed an addition 13,000 children each year across 30 South Georgia counties. “One of the main ways we combat childhood hunger is through our, ‘Kids Cafe Program.’ We provide an after school meal or snack to children and for a lot of kids, that’s the only thing that keeps them from going to bed hungry.”

The new report by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 27 percent of children in the state, as a whole, live in poverty. Some experts say, the sluggish economy plays a big role in that number.  “The face of hunger is changing due to economic difficulties,” McCall said. “It’s not exactly who people expect all the time.”  Second Harvest’s new distribution center will also be able to store more than three million pounds of food.  The new facility is expected to be complete by Spring 2014.