What Is It Going To Take To Make Child Hunger Part of The National Agenda?

Posted by eszter vajda

It’s almost unimaginable that in a rich and robust country like the United States, everyday millions of children go to bed hungry.  But it is a sad reality and one that ultimately, politicians and citizens alike must address.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 9.8 percent of households with children, one or more child lacked access to adequate food at times during the year. In 2010, 16.2 million children, or 21.6 percent of all children, were living in households with low or very low food security among either adults or children, meaning they did not have consistent access to food.

For the first time, many of those children came from middle class families who struggled to put food on the table. They, like the millions of  Americans who are still feeling the heavy burden of the recession,  are forced to turn to food pantries and soup kitchens as a last resort.

According to Feeding America, one of the nation’s leading hunger relief charities, with a network of 206 food banks across the country, the number of hungry households has increased in an alarming rate. In 2006 it fed 25 million Americans including 9 million children. Today, it provides food to 37 million Americans, and 14 million children, a 46% increase. That means one in eight Americans rely on Feeding America for its groceries.

At the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Director Diane Jarvis says she has seen the face of hunger change over the years. When the center first opened in 2006 most of the clients were homeless or unemployed people. Since the recession hit, she has seen more families come to meal centers.

“Sometimes you can not tell the difference between a volunteer and a client, they may drive up in a nice car or wear good cloths, all items from their prior life style.”

Jarvis says the most troubling part is the increase in the number of children who

come through the doors alone on a daily basis.

“Some come for breakfast before school. I’ve had kids come in pushing baby carriages… this never happened when we first opened.”

Hunger impacts a child both physically and psychologically. Lack of food means they cannot focus, are restless and inattentive at school.  Many perform poorly on standardized test scores or even drop out of school. Studies show they are also more likely to have social and behavioral problems.

Children who do not get adequate nutrition for an extended period of time often face serious health problems

When children are hungry, they are more susceptible to illnesses including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and iron deficiencies. It may also take them longer to recover from those illnesses.

All of these can prevent them from realizing their full academic and physical potential.

So ultimately, when a child goes hungry, society as a whole pays the price. Not only do we loose a potentially valuable citizen to health issues, or lack of education, but they are more likely to take part in government sponsored school lunches and food stamps.

Also, children who go hungry are more likely to get into trouble with the law, which burdens the already struggling budgets of law enforcement, court systems, and prisons.

Project Bread, an organization perhaps best known for their annual Walk For Hunger in Boston, Massachusetts, is helping alleviate the highest recorded food insecure households in the Commonwealth: 10.8%.

“The number of meals served by Project Bread–funded pantries has gone from 29 million in 2000 to 65.2 million meals last year alone exhausting the traditional food stocks at emergency food programs and stretching their volunteer resources to the limit.”

Resources at Project Bread, Cor Unum, Feeding America, and other meal centers and food pantries around the country are being squeezed to the max. These organizations rely mostly on grants and donations to fill their coffers. Meanwhile, state and federal agencies are forced to cut back on assistance as they continue to struggle with lean budgets.

Whether you agree with government handouts or not, the reality is that children who live in poverty did not choose their circumstance. If they are left without access to the tools to change their lives, like proper nutrition, we can expect them to continue on a dangerous trajectory. As the presidential candidates continue to bicker on how to get the United States back on sound economic ground, perhaps they should also consider making child hunger one of their top priorities. Failing to do so could mean a tremendous loss of human capital, not to mention more tax dollars.

But until they do, it’s incumbent on all of to do a bit more to help organizations fighting hunger. For information on how you can volunteer or donate to one of the above organizations click on the links bellow. Incidentally, if you happen to be in Boston, Massachusetts on May 6th consider doing the Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country.

Walk for Hunger

Cor Unum Meal Center

Project Bread

Feeding America


Related posts:

  1. Conn. Mulls Seeking Waiver to ‘No Child’ Law
  2. Stop & Shop to Debut Innovative Supermarket in Chelmsford; Complete with In-Store Nutritionist, Wi-Fi and Supervised Child Play Area
  3. Updated: Oldest Child of Late Sen. Ted Kennedy dies
  4. Mom’s Corner: Coconut Oil to the Rescue! A Tropical Solution for Your Child’s Eczema or Dry Skin
  5. Preserving the Industrial Heritage of New England: U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Create National Historical Park in Blackstone River Valley

Short URL: http://www.newenglandpost.com/?p=8803

Posted by eszter vajda on Jan 28 2012. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Our Authors

Follow New England Post

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative