For twenty years, Ludington has come together as a community for the annual Lake Jump to raise money for a worthy cause. In total, nearly $600,000 has been contributed to local charities through this fundraiser. The 2020 Lake Jump will benefit Lakeshore Food 4 Kids, a weekend food bag program now serving Ludington students grades K-12. It will be held on Saturday, April 18.
Lakeshore Food 4 Kids was founded by a group of moms who started feeding children by sending extra snacks for their own kids’ classrooms, and quickly realized it just wasn’t enough. They championed the cause and rallied support from many generous local groups and individuals. LF4K has now been providing 100 weekly food bags every Friday for the past three years. Two years ago, they inspired a group of volunteers to create a similar program in the middle school and high school, and as of January, 2020 these two groups have combined forces, serving approximately 150 kids each weekend, proving Helen Keller’s thought, “Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.”
According to Feeding America of West Michigan, 1 in 5 youth in Mason County are food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough food to meet their basic needs. We know that children who are not well nourished are more likely to experience school failure, poor attendance due to illness, lower test scores, increased risk of retention, challenging behavior, and developmental and cognitive impairments (Feeding America). The mission of LF4K is to diminish the meal gap for food insecure students over the weekend so they are better prepared to learn.
Area counselors testify to the powerful support this program provides. Lakeview counselor Jen Shaw shares, “I have a few students who will ask me several times a week if it’s their food bag day and at least one who makes sure on Fridays to check and make sure I didn’t forget hers.”
High school counselor Laura Powers sees the impact of the program. “We have all witnessed the difference the food bags make for our students—especially on the weekends or long breaks. There is a lightness and smile that comes over (students) when they are able to carry home a very tangible message of care from their school and community.”
Powers reflects, “The one story that especially hits me is that of a young girl who has been identified as homeless or at-risk of being homeless since she was a freshman…she is now a senior. This past fall, she teared up when we added to the regular bags an additional box filled with groceries and told her that it would be dropped off after school so she didn’t have to worry about how to transport it. She couldn’t believe the gift and said that we will never know what ‘all of this’ has meant to her over the years.”
Lake Jump 2020 is sure to be the biggest one yet! With the full support of the community behind them, and a matching grant up to $10,000 from Pennies from Heaven, Lakeshore Food 4 Kids hopes to raise the funds needed to support a K-12 program for the next five years. This we know for sure — when kids’ basic needs are met, they are more able to learn, leading to greater success and an ability to contribute to their communities later in life. With the entire community jumping in together, food insecure students in grades K-12 will be assured for years to come that they will have the food necessary to thrive in and beyond the classroom.
To learn more about how you can jump in to help, please visit lakejump.org or Lakeshore Food 4 Kids on Facebook.
Contact: Sara Ewing, firstname.lastname@example.org