Nothing makes me madder than to think about children going hungry in our area.

Over the years, I've reported about food programs for children. And the number of children who are still going hungry in South Carolina is staggering.

One in two children lives in a family that makes $22,050 or less a year, the level that the federal government sets as the poverty level.

But can you imagine three or four people living on that amount of money? By the time a family pays rent, utilities, phone, car, gas -- all necessary for making a living -- there isn't a lot left over for food.

About 23 percent of children in poor families have at least one parent who is employed full-time, year-round, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University.

The research shows that a family of four needs an income of about twice the federal poverty level to meet basic needs. With the recession, that poverty number has hit the highest percent of people since 1993, according to the center.

So it is no surprise that our public resources are getting stretched ever thinner, and taxpayer dollars cover less of what is needed.

That means that private citizens and organizations need to help wherever they can.

That's why I was glad to see a notice about signing up for the Department of Social Services Summer Feeding Program.

Right now, organizers are looking for donors to help feed kids for the summer, when school is out and children are going hungry without the food assistance many receive at school.

So instead of a happy summer lazing around reading books and getting better acquainted with our world, kids are hoping that Mom or Dad will bring home some extra money and spend it on more food.

We have done a wonderful job in this community with the Charleston Chefs Feed The Need. The organization feeds a group in need every week, and have found the gratification that goes with that, thanks to Mickey Bakst, the keeper of the flame.

The group has been recognized nationally for this wonderful, ongoing effort.

Now other organizations can help this summer by sponsoring

a feeding location, and can offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Either a group that knows how to feed people can be a sponsor at a center, or the group could contract for meals through a food vendor.

While I know that it is harder for churches and civic groups to keep volunteers organized in the summer because everyone has vacations, camps and family trips, that just shows how hard it is to get good nutrition to the very people who live next door.

You never know when that child you help might be your neighbor's.

What better way to build a sense of community than starting small and getting something fundamental going with a short-term commitment.

To get started, contact Cheryl Evans McDonald at the S.C. Department of Social Services at 803-898-0971 or send an email to summerfood@dss.sc.gov.

They have meetings that will answer questions before you make a commitment.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at sharvin@postandcourier.com or 937-5557.