Childhood Hunger Is Hitting Close to Home
Hunger Childhood hunger is not just relegated to the developing world. In the United States, 16.7 million children live in families who struggle with food security.
More than one in five children go to bed hungry, wake up hungry and go to school hungry. They may eat, but not on a regular basis and often what they do eat is not nutritious.
The problem goes beyond growling bellies at bedtime, tragic though that is. “Children who receive regular nutritious meals concentrate better, are less likely to get sick and miss school and are more likely to graduate and attend college. Positive educational outcomes increase the likelihood that children will be able to earn enough to provide for their own families in the future,” explains Kate Atwood, executive director of The Arby’s Foundation.
“Children who receive regular nutritious meals concentrate better, are less likely to get sick and miss school and are more likely to graduate and attend college."
The problem has worsened in recent years. In 2007, 26 million Americans were on food stamps. Now that number is 48 million. Poverty is a serious and largely unacknowledged problem in the U.S. “Solving poverty is complex; feeding a child is not,” says Billy Shore, CEO of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end childhood hunger.
Into the mouths of babes
Feeding a child shouldn’t be complex, but sometimes it is. While there is a great need for funds, the problems are more about access than money. “Awareness is the problem,” explains Amy Grabow, vice president of marketing for Jimmy Dean Foods. “For example, many people aren’t aware of the availability of food programs during the summer.”
School breakfast is a problem, too. Even when people know about it, the logistics of getting kids to school early enough for breakfast can be difficult. But there is a lot the public can do to help. “Be in touch with your local school system,” says Shore. “Ask if organizations you are involved with, such as the local YMCA, can sponsor sites for summer meal programs.”