Go jump in the lake, and feed local students.

March 11, 2020

Go jump in the lake, and feed local students.

Letter to the Editor by Tara Autrey

Letters to the editor are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Media Group 31, LLC, owner of Mason County Press. 

Dear Editor,

I am about to drive my family and friends crazy. Nearly every sentence I utter lately contains the words “Lake Jump.” If you haven’t heard by now, Lakeshore Food 4 Kids is the beneficiary of the 2020 Ludington Lake Jump, being held on April 18, 2020. Lakeshore Food 4 Kids is a weekend backpack food program for students in grades K-12 at Ludington Area Schools.

If you’ve read our recent sponsorship letter or have seen us in the newspaper or on social media, you’ve probably seen the key information we regularly share: 1 in 5 kids in Mason County is what Feeding America of West Michigan calls “food insecure,” meaning they often don’t have enough to eat and don’t know when the next meal is coming; 50% of students at LASD participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program (and for some kids, these are the only meals they can count on); and students who come to school with a full belly are more focused and better able to learn. 

As I looked around yesterday at my piles of dirty laundry and Lake Jump paperwork that have taken over my home, I had to remind myself why this program and fundraiser are so important. The two other moms, Carrie Brandt and Sara Ewing, who helped begin the elementary portion of LF4K three years ago would agree that our own children inspired us to start the program. We each learned that our kids were taking extra food to school to feed their hungry classmates.

My daughter was particularly concerned about a third grade friend I’ll call Mary. I met Mary at my daughter’s Halloween party. Unlike other kids that day, she had no costume and didn’t participate in the festive activities. Instead, she remained at the food table eating, eating and eating. When she began coming over for playdates, she would eat huge portions of food and then ask to take more home. She reported that she and her siblings had very limited access to food.

That December, unbeknownst to me, my daughter wrote a letter to Santa Claus asking him to remember Mary and to make sure that another classmate who had these same concerns was not on the naughty list. A member of FloraCraft called me just before Christmas to say that he and some other community leaders saw the letter and wanted to help the families of both children. I learned later that both families were struggling and would not have had a Christmas meal or gifts under the tree without help. At the same time, my daughter’s teacher rallied other community members to help yet another child in class. The teacher had learned that the boy had never owned a bed and didn’t have a single pair of socks that cold winter.

Two things I learned that school year stick with me to this day: 1) Kids in classrooms right here in beautiful Ludington do not have enough food to eat; 2) We have a community that truly cares about kids. The first part motivates me to continue to drive my family and friends nuts with the Lake Jump. The second part gives me hope that Ludington will rally during this awesome opportunity to care for its children.

Lakeshore Food 4 Kids and our community have been given an incredible opportunity with the Ludington Lake Jump to leverage the future of the K-12 weekend backpack food program. Together, we can positively impact the future of kids like Mary and the boy who talked to his teacher about simply wanting a pair of socks. I know why I am all in for the Lake Jump. I hope you, too, will support the cause.

Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.” Business sponsors, private donors, and potential jumpers alike — please visit lakejump.org, email us at lakeshorefood4kids@gmail.com or mail checks made out to “Lakeshore Food 4 Kids” with “Lake Jump” in the memo line to Lakeshore Food 4 Kids, 920 E. Tinkham Ave., Ludington, MI 49431 to show how we “Love Ludington” and its children during the 21st Annual Ludington Lake Jump on April 18, 2020. 


Warm regards,


Tara Autrey

Lakeshore Food 4 Kids



Area Churches