To The Editor:
June 9 was the culmination of a 55-day process and collaboration to raise enough money to feed 215 children in kindergarten through 5th grade in the Princeton Public School System for 36 weekends during the school year. There is no question that members of our Princeton community struggle to feed their families each week. We also know that many of these families have school-age children attending our public schools- children whose minds we want focused on learning and excelling. Providing an extra source of nutrition on the weekends might seem simple, but the payoff for these children, their families, and our community is immeasurable.
The event at the Garden Theater featured the Sundance Film Festival nominee, “A Place at the Table”. The film poignantly and powerfully made the case that hunger in America is a serious problem in our country. The documentary focused on the experiences of just a few people and families across the country, highlighting their challenges and suggesting that with more attention drawn to this subject more support services for this population is attainable.
Following the film, Elisabeth Hirschhorn Donahue of the Woodrow Wilson School led a panel discussion. Doug Massey, chair of the Woodrow Wilson’s Office of Population Research, provided a national overview of the increase in poverty in the U.S. Edwina Hawes, head of the child study team at the John Witherspoon Middle School, provided a local perspective. And, Lori Silverbush, the film’s co director, spoke of the need for more citizen involvement in lobbying government officials to encourage them to take more assertive action to support our 50 million underserved in our country.
The Princeton Human Services Commission, in collaboration with Mercer Street Friends, Princeton Public Schools, and a group of highly motivated members the Princeton Community, raised nearly $50,000 by the time the movie was shown. With the Princeton High School acapella group, Around 8, singing and drawing attention to the table display outside the Garden Theater, even a child walking by was motivated to donate 34 cents to this worthy cause.
The planning committee has a deep gratitude for our very early supporters, which include Princeton University, the Princeton Theological Seminary, and Jenny and Jon Crumiller. With their commitment, the mission had proven credentials and others were very willing to donate.
The current goal is raise enough money for this weekend feed program for not one school year, but two. And at this point the group is well on the way to meeting the second year goal. And, with even more funds, the program can grow to serve even more grades in the school system.
It has been a great honor to work with the many very talented and dedicated members of our Princeton Community who served on this committee. Working with all of them made the process both enjoyable and rewarding. Thank you to all…the committee members and members of the Princeton Community who supported this effort.
Ross Wishnick, Chairperson
Princeton Human Services Commission