József Barát

They cannot wait for the net—a call for donations, by József Barát

Can I have your attention for ten minutes? I would like to tell you about those Hungarian children who have no past yet but who are also losing their future. They are hungry, and it is not merely an unpleasantness till the next dish.

OK. Suppose ten minutes is too long, I can tell it in five. According to a member of the UN Committee for the Rights of Children, 200,000 Hungarian children go hungry from time to time. But there are 40,000 children who regularly starve when the school cafeterias are closed. There are 162 such days in the year.

The number of those in danger is growing. The statistical agency of the EU, the Eurostat, has pointed out that the number of Hungarians living in poverty is increasing. Last year it rose by 3% or 97,000 people, from 3,188,000 to 3,285,000. OECD data show that Hungary has suffered the largest decrease in social welfare expenditures of the Visegrad countries and Slovenia since the start of the economic crisis. It is the only country where between 2008 and 2013 the GDP decreased (7.1%) and at the same time social expenditures were cut (10%). As a result the number of impoverished has grown by 17%.

And of course children are the poorest of the poor. They make up 51% of Hungary’s impoverished, and as UNICEF’s Budapest office says, 50% of Hungary’s children live in conditions of material deprivation.

This article is not about politics, it is just to say that hungry children have to be helped now. I know the importance of giving people a net instead of fish. But nets are not for hungry children. They must eat today. They cannot wait till the net is ready to use. Hungry children will never make healthy grownups. Their physical, intellectual, and social development will be disturbed. And Hungarian society is going to suffer together with them. It will have to pay the price in social and healthcare expenses as well as the growing price of a huge system of penal institutions.

I want to tell you about a new organization, the Children’s Nutrition Fund (CNF).  CNF is the US based international sister organization of a well-known 20-year-old Hungarian charity of good standing, the Gyermekétkeztetési Alapítvány (GYEA). In 2010 it was able to distribute 6,148,000 kg worth of food, but last year this amount was only 1,828,000 kg. The need grew but donations fell sharply.  That is why founder Gabor Kiraly established a new international foundation registered in California. Last year it was granted 501(c) (3) status by the IRS.

Hungry children need your help now. Have you got the price of a holiday meal for them? Or if this is too much, just the value of a quick fast food restaurant lunch once a month? It is tax deductible. Or are you ready to be our volunteer? You can donate or get in touch with us through our website: www.childrensnutritionfund.org or www.childnfund.org .

Or you can just write me an e-mail or call. Thank you.