I would like to thank The Sentinel for publishing the article on childhood poverty (“Life below the line”) on Nov. 23. It is disturbing that Cheshire County has the second-highest rate of childhood poverty among all 10 state counties.
As a former member of the board of directors of N.H. Kids Count, which was a child advocacy agency and now is part of the New Futures organization, I saw a steady rise of this circumstance for our county. Along with the rising childhood poverty rate, we have seen a decline in educational attainment and increased food insecurity among our children. The article correctly points out that these factors are linked to poverty. Threats to our children and their struggling families are looming, such as the reduction of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits by the federal government.
Through the Monadnock United Way, our health and social service agencies, schools and other community institutions, efforts are underway to attack childhood poverty and hunger. However, reversing these circumstances will take more effort, resources and a firm determination from us all. Any solutions will require a cooperative, coordinated approach. The Sentinel highlights some agencies that are working to attack this trend. These agencies partner with each other and with the Monadnock United Way. For example,
The Community Kitchen is spearheading the newly formed Monadnock Food Pantries Collective, a collaboration of seven food pantries. They seek to increase access to fresh produce and to help the pantries improve their buying power at the wholesale level.
Another cooperative effort, the Cheshire County Emergency Housing Collaborative, includes the 100 Nights Shelter, Southwestern Community Services Fuel Assistance and Weatherization, Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, and Cheshire Housing Trust. They are using a housing support approach that has led to good outcomes.
The Monadnock Parent Education Collective, comprising Monadnock Family Services; Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services; the River Center in Peterborough; and The Grapevine in Antrim, offers parent education programs for positive parenting practices.
We have a great deal of work to do to make our county and region a place where all children, families, and individuals have resources to reach their full potential. With caring, compassion, generosity and unwavering determination to “fix” this circumstance, I am confident we are up to the task.
23 Ridgewood Ave., Keene