Hunger is a crisis in the United States. There are 45 million Americans on SNAP (food stamps), and nearly half are children. One in 5 children in the United States struggles with hunger. This isn’t isolated to inner cities and rural communities. It affects kids and families in every city, town and suburb.

It’s the family with empty pantries. It’s the home with enough to eat for three weeks of a month, but not the fourth. Families are left making tough choices—between keeping the lights on or buying groceries; between having enough food or paying rent. And all of this exists in the world’s wealthiest nation.

CLEARING THE PLATE: From leftovers wasted at restaurants to leftovers sent to the trash at home, there's more than enough food to go around. For so many other Americans, those leftovers are more than a meal.

Electing to end hunger

While we have not yet heard a lot of discussion about hunger during the election season, it has a major effect on issues that are firmly part of the political conversation — including health care, education and economic growth.

For example, when children are unable to get enough of the healthy food they need every day, they fall behind in school. They struggle with avoidable and expensive health problems. They have a harder time growing into strong, productive adults.

“Solving poverty is complex, but feeding a person is not.”

For candidates debating what it will take for America to be its best, there’s one thing on which we can all agree—we can’t have a strong America without strong kids.

Hunger is manageable

Solving poverty is complex, but feeding a person is not. We have enough food for everyone in the country. It’s a matter of making sure they get it.

That means working with schools to move breakfast after the bell, so more kids get a healthy start when opening their textbooks. It means teaching families to stretch their food dollars and cook healthy meals on a budget. It means advocating for policies to make it easier for people to get the food they need, every day.

We know this is possible.  We’ve added millions of America’s poorest kids to school breakfast programs and seen attendance and test scores improve. We’ve added tens of thousands of summer feeding sites when the schools are closed. We’ve helped build the emergency food assistance network of foodbanks. This is what can be achieved when you pick battles that are big enough to matter but small enough to win. By focusing on these realistic changes and by working together, we can end the crisis once and for all.