by Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach for Toni’s Kitchen
Toni’s Kitchen has been growing — a lot! Part of the reason is that suburban hunger is growing as new, previously stables groups have joined more traditional high-need populations. High housing costs and a scarcity of full time jobs lead to extended periods of food insecurity among families with school aged children. Senior citizens also find their small nest eggs too slim to meet rapidly increasing housing and medical costs.
As the need grows, we learn more about connecting food with those in need. Our on-site meal program includes regular distributions of take-home food, including fresh produce. Our guests have preventive programs and health resources onsite as they gather.
For children, food insecurity can be especially harmful. Food worries contribute to education disruptions, mental health issues, poor physical health and behavioral issues.
The good news is we are learning to approach working families in ways that also lift the overall resilience of families. We work with community partners to provide food as children meet for tutoring or mentoring or as adults meet for financial counseling. Health pay food is integrated into programs low-income families access to strengthen their family. In this way, we preserve family dignity while ensuring core nutrition and strengthening connections with valuable, stabilizing services.
Jump in and support this work. We have a busy summer ahead!