The Herald Bulletin

December 14, 2013

Tim Kean: Are you feeling the pressure?

By Tim Kean
For The Herald Bulletin

— The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is such an interesting time. All the personal energy people are using is staggering.

Travel plans get busier with local and extended visits. Crowded schedules for social and business reasons with seemingly no end to topic discussions are wrapping up this year and getting ready for the next one.

There are numerous once-a-year get-togethers to ensure that everyone will know they are not forgotten and their work is valued. There are ongoing seasonal efforts to provide some food and gifts for those who can’t afford them, let alone enough for just a family. We decorate for celebrations, lest we forget the time spent shopping and buying of things that are mostly wants and not needs. Buying things that we hope to pay for later. Most are guilty as charged.

What is your response to witnessing this obscene level of materialism, overwhelming generosity and celebration all stirred together? If you’re a retailer, you probably have had to wait for it all year and hope it will be enough to sustain you until the next island of black ink appears somewhere on the horizon. If you’re a medical insurance company, in a few weeks all the deductibles will be reset back to the maximum for a new year, (ooh, what a hot topic).

If you’re a member of the clergy, you’re probably anxious to see all those who haven’t been in the pews for many months. If you’re a person struggling to provide for your family, you may be excited to find that you were selected to receive a slice of the bountiful gathering and in a few days of eating without scrambling for it, realize that the wolf will be back at the door and the struggle didn’t go away.

The holiday break is just around the corner for most schools, and the staff might be getting a much needed break. However, the holiday break will affect kids and parents differently than the rest of the world.

This time period is very difficult for tens of thousands of struggling families. There are no free and reduced breakfasts and lunches available — the meals based on the family income and offered when school is in session. How many kids are affected by this? There are more than 24,000 kids in east central Indiana who are food insecure.

Most of the school districts are now at least 50 percent free and reduced lunch schools. Many schools are over 90 percent free and reduced lunches. This two-week break is no party in those households; returning to school is a blessing.

Our programs and focuses will be much the same starting the year as they have been. We will be looking to replicate some successful new models in produce distribution in the rest of our service area that we developed in Delaware and Madison counties this year. Working with hospitals and clinics in the immediate area has shown results for reaching a common goal, providing better nutritional choices to those we are serving.

Let’s challenge ourselves to serve while we celebrate this season.

Tim Kean is executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. His column appears the third Sunday of each month. He can be reached at tkean@curehunger.org.