Thanksgiving is next week, and I’m looking forward to running the Manchester Road Race and then coming home to stuffing, pie, and my aunt’s sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans. But for many families who struggle to put food on the table, Thanksgiving isn’t so simple. In fact, it can be downright stressful. Social service agencies and initiatives like our Mobile Food Pantry are there for people who can’t consistently afford healthy food, but some feel a stigma or sense of shame associated with seeking help.
This Friday is Veterans Day, and if you don’t have close friends or immediate family who have served in the military, it may seem like just another day. I know that as a young child, I couldn’t have cared less about any holiday that wasn’t Christmas or Halloween. But as I’ve gotten older and begun to understand the sacrifices that my extended family members have made while serving, this holiday has taken on new meaning. And the more I understand, the more it upsets me that so many of our veterans end up struggling financially, mentally, and socially, upon returning home.
Struggling to avoid the temptations of leftover Halloween candy? (I know there’s a handful of Reese’s cups still living in my purse). Luckily November, falling right between Halloween and the holidays, is good nutrition month.
October has a lot of things going on (Halloween! Breast Cancer Awareness! People already selling Christmas stuff!) but it also happens to be National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Bullying is something that affects millions of kids across the U.S., and I’d bet that everyone reading this has some kind of bullying-related story. For me it was harassment from boys on my baseball team and comments from girls who decided I wasn’t cool enough. For my brother, it was a girl on the bus who tormented him for months before the school finally stepped in.
Today, over 2 million people will congregate in classrooms, libraries, community centers, homes across the U.S. as part of Jumpstart’s 11th annual Read for the Record. Volunteers will read to kids from this year’s book, “Quackers,” an adorable story about a kitten who grows up believing he’s a duck.
If you’re familiar with UWSECT, you’ll notice that much of our work focuses on ALICE- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed- families. After hearing this acronym and seeing on our publications, I decided to do a little digging into what that really means. Luckily, a brief overview is already provided on our website, which gives some useful statistics.
On October 19, United Way will have its annual fall reading day in support of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record. Volunteers will flood into schools, libraries, and community centers across the country to make kids’ days by reading aloud from the same book. But the point of this event is not just to enjoy a book together (although this year’s book looks adorable, check it out here). It’s also to bring attention to the importance of early childhood literacy and quality education.
Last week was suicide prevention week, and I didn’t realize until it was almost over. I’m used to being at school and seeing the awareness events put on by Active Minds, but this year there was nothing to remind me until I saw a tweet from Connecticut 2-1-1. There’s a decent amount of conversation around mental health resources on college campuses, but out in the “real world” it’s something that’s easy to forget. This is a shame, because suicide rates are actually highest among middle-aged people.
Something you should know about me: I’m a geek. I love statistics, and I think a little extra research can make a difference in just about anything. So when I was invited to visit the Groton Mobile Food Pantry yesterday, I did some brief homework on food insecurity first. Here’s what I learned:
A 2014 survey of food pantry and soup kitchen clients in Connecticut found that in the past 12 months,
- 73% of them were forced to choose between food and utilities
- 68% had to choose between food and medical care, and