While it was good news that Loving Hearts Outreach in Washington won a $20,000 grant for its Food Backpack Fund — Fighting Hunger, Fueling Minds, the program is a sad commentary on conditions today.

Loving Hearts joined with the Washington School District in the program, which provides food to needy students to make sure they have enough food to get through the weekend. The grant also will offer food this summer.

Do we have that many poor and/or neglected children in the district who need to be fed nearly year round? Apparently, we do. They have been fed during regular school days for a long time. Officials noted the need.

Our jobless rate is above the norm, but some of the children simply are neglected. What a contrast to many years ago when parents found a way to provide for their children’s needs. The family unit was stronger in those days. We didn’t have the degree of broken family units that we have today. Parents may have been poor, but they were responsible and took care of their children. Many had gardens and kept food on the table that way. Family units have lost the strengths they once had.

We have many people still living today who remember the difficult times in this area. Factory pay was low. With gardens, and many cases by hunting and fishing, they had food. It’s a fact that people were more resourceful in those days. Yes, they did without luxuries, but they were able to provide the basics. Economic conditions improved and what was scarce became plentiful. In that transition, people and family strengths declined, along with a strong sense of responsibility. Then came rather hard times for some people and our welfare state grew.

There was a time in America when people were too proud to accept welfare. They made ends meet somehow.

Our teachers see it nearly every day — children sent to school without having breakfast. School lunches provided the only regular meal some children were getting. Then came breakfast programs. Now we are sending food home for the weekend. We don’t doubt the need. Loving Hearts and school district officials attest to the need.

The grant money came through Walmart and there was competition for the funds. A detailed story on the grant and the need for the program was explained in Wednesday’s Missourian.

We are well aware that there are families in this area that are hurting financially through no fault of their own. But we also are aware that today we don’t have the strengths we once had in the family unit. We also have lost spiritual strengths.