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Child poverty in Berrien County

According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, 1 in 4 children in the state of Michigan live in impoverished homes.

A study was done as part of the Kid's Count program in Michigan. It also said that 31-percent of children in Berrien County live in poverty and the county is ranked 71 out of 82.

Executive Director Lisa Gorman said she moved away for 25 years, and when she came back to take care of a sick relative, she decided to start a non-profit to benefit the less fortunate in Benton Harbor.

Gorman “Last summer we fed over 300 children in our community breakfast and lunch and two snacks. Once school is out, many of those children will not eat, so we try to fill in the gaps where we can.”

Gorman said they started the River of Life Christian School for Kindergarten through 5th grade to nurture children physically, spiritually, and mentally.

Gorman said, “Sometimes we are fighting against a growling stomach because they're hungry. And yet we say we want them to learn. That usually doesn't happen. We have to stop and feed them physical food before we can get them anything else.”

Gorman believes all it takes is one generation to change the cycle of poverty.

Gorman said, “We are in a food desert, so we offer nutrition classes to parents and also we have garden beds here on campus and I expose them to stuff that they normally don't get an opportunity to eat, and I furnish those recipes to their parents!”

Gorman said that Lighthouse Ministries recently held a coat drive.

Gorman said, “They were standing out in these frigid temperatures without coats.. so we immediately did a coat drive and collected over a hundred coats for children in our community.”

Gorman said that tuition at their school is based on a sliding scale, and they work with families to make it affordable.
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