CHILD HUNGER Melanie Andrews, Kristen Catt, Alison Thompson
Statement • Every Child Deserves To Thrive! • Hungry children cannot thrive. Yet millions of kids in America are at risk of going hungry. • Although the United States is the wealthiest nation in the world, millions of children in our nation are food insecure, meaning they are either currently hungry or nearing hunger. Children who are undernourished are at greater risk for serious health, social, and educational problems. Today, many public food-assistance programs and private organizations strive to meet the nutritional needs of vulnerable children, but more needs to be done to fight child hunger. • Every parent knows that a hungry child is a disadvantaged child. He can’t grow, develop and learn like other kids. She has trouble focusing and getting along. They complain often of headaches, stomachaches and other ailments. They fall behind in virtually every way. • Children from many poor families receive less than 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of major nutrients. This deficiency translates into increased risk for serious and costly health problems, including anemia, impaired cognitive development, and stunted growth. Children suffering from hunger or near hunger are also less likely to have access to sufficient medical care. • Food insufficiency also hinders children’s social development. Studies show that child hunger may be linked to behavioral problems, delayed social development, anxiety, and other emotional problems. • For emotional, cognitive, and physical reasons, a hungry or undernourished child faces significant educational challenges. School attendance and academic performance both suffer due to student undernourishment. Food insufficiency—often caused by missed breakfast—diminishes a child’s ability to retain knowledge, concentrate, and develop language and math skills. • It doesn’t have to be this way. There is plenty of nutritious food in America to make sure every child grows up healthy and thrives. What’s missing is access to this food. If families don’t have reliable access to healthy, affordable food, they can’t possibly feed their children well. • Sources: http://www.strength.org/childhood_hunger/ • http://hungeractioncenter.org/content.aspx?page=Issues_Children
Hunger Facts • In 2009, 50.2 million Americans (up from 35.5 million in 2006), including 17.2 million children, are food insecure, or didn’t have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives. • In 2008 alone, a rise of about 6% in the price of groceries has led the poor to adopt a variety of survival strategies, from buying food that is beyond its expiration date to visiting food banks. • About 33.7 million people in America participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- a program that provides monthly benefits to poor households to purchase approved food items from authorized food stores. According to the USDA, the average benefit per person was $124 per month and the Federal government spent over $53.6 billion on the program in 2009. • 5.6 million households obtained emergency food from food pantries at least once during 2009. • The USDA recently found that retailers, restaurants, farmers and households threw about 96 billion pounds of food available for human consumption in the United States away over the course of one year. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, grain products, and sweeteners accounted for 2/3 of these losses. • Kids who experience hunger are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other illness. • The total cost of hunger to American society is said to be about $90 billion a year.
Facts CONT… • Today, more than 15 million poor American children face immediate and life-long risk to health, growth, and school achievement. • One in eight Americans struggles with the reality of hunger and food insecurity. An estimated 36.2 million Americans, or 12.2 % are food insecure; meaning their access to enough food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. • The estimated number of people in poverty increased by 1.1 million to 39.1 million in 2008. • 15 percent of all families with related children under 18 years of age live in poverty.
Sample Story 1 • Luz, a mother raising seven children in a vibrant town southwest of San Juan, takes great pride in raising her children. “I pray to [God] that he won’t take me before my children are grown,” she says in Spanish. “When they are grown, when they can defend themselves and have met their goals, he can take me.” Her dreams for her kids are the same as any parent’s, but the weight of these desires is compounded by the fact she is a single mother. Jenison and Yadiel, 11 and 9 respectively, are the youngest of her kids. • In May, Luz was approached by the young boys’ school to participate in a new extension of Banco de Alimentos’ BackPack Program. Since then, Luz has seen the burgeoning Feeding America program as a great way for the young boys to stay fed over the weekends, especially when she can’t beat home to make them a full meal. One of Jenison and Yadiel’s two sisters has chronic kidney problems that require great medical care, and Luz must often leave the two boys at home so she can take her daughter to medical appointments. The weekly roller bags full of cereal, shelf-stable milk, mini sausages, juice and snack bars are a nutritious alternative to the home-cooked meals Luz makes for her family. They offer a practical and tasty way for the boys to have food while their mother is away. • Source: www.feedingamerica.org
Sample Story 2 • Little Daniel is out to prove that he is the toughest and bravest of all his siblings. As the youngest in the family, he has a need for power and speed, ready to fall to the ground to do a series of pushups when he is not running laps around the makeshift church and pantry of Denver’s His Hands Ministries. • The five-year-old started coming with his family to the pantry during the fall of 2008, finding that His Hands Ministries offered a safe place to play as well as to get food. Daniel’s parents, who have often been weary of the youth violence in their neighborhood, are glad to let all six of their kids attend the Food Bank of the Rockies agency for after school activities and church services. • Daniel’s mother, Santana, relies on the large boxes of fresh produce and meat she receives each week from the family. Since her husband lost his job with a railroad inventory company, the family has often struggled to come up with one meal a day. The food stamps she receives don’t stretch as far as they did when her children, ages five to fourteen, were receiving free meals through their schools’ lunch programs. • Daniel’s ambition to be a cop, a fire truck, and an ambulance all derive from his mother’s determined drive. Santana is putting herself through school by working at a discount store, training at night to one day work in a hospital preparing medical bills and codes. She dreams of a time when she and her husband can move Daniel and his older brothers and sisters in to a ranch house on a sprawling farm. Wherever this young family is headed, they know they have the support of His Hands Ministries to get them there. • Source: www.feedingamerica.org
Letter to Representative Berry • May 21, 2012 • Dear State Representative Berry, • We am writing for your support of increased reimbursement rates for the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program so more low-income children can access the food they need to grow and thrive. The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world yet millions of American children are hungry and malnourished because their families cannot afford to buy food. In our home state of Arkansas, more than half of the 1.3 million federal food stamp recipients are children in low-income families. This essential safety net has been unable to protect children from hunger due to rising food prices eroding the purchasing power of food stamp benefits. Children in working class immigrant families are even more vulnerable because non-US citizens face more barriers when applying for food stamps and other government assistance programs. We must take action to ensure that an entire generation of children does not suffer from stunted growth, cognitive impairment, and poor school achievement as the result of hunger and poverty. • Eliminating child hunger in the United States will require increased funding and support for government nutrition programs. Students who eat breakfast in the morning are more likely to perform better in the classroom. The level of reimbursement for the School Breakfast Program needs to be increased to encourage more schools to participate. Currently, some school districts are implementing universal breakfast programs that reduce stigma by providing a free breakfast to all students, regardless of their families’ income. Innovative programs like this should be encouraged and supported. Another critical child nutrition program is the Summer Food Service Program, which provides meals during the summer months when schools are closed. Of the 18 million children who qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches in 2007, only 3 million children received daily food assistance from the Summer Food Service Program. Many children depend on the Summer Food Service Program for their only meal of the day when school lunches are not available. Streamlining the program’s policies and administration along with increasing reimbursement will help raise the number of sponsors that will provide meals to children. In 2013, Congress will be able to enact policies to improve current government-sponsored child nutrition programs when it reviews the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. We am requesting your leadership and advocacy to make sure the law will be reauthorized to significantly combat child hunger. • Thank you for your attention to the pressing problem of child hunger in our country. We look forward to your reply as to whether you support legislation and policy changes that will provide more nutritious food to American children. • Sincerely, • Melanie Andrews, Alison Thompson, Kristen Catt • ASU Education Majors • Jonesboro, Arkansas
Let’s work together and help end child hunger! When: Saturday, May 26, 2012 Where: Utopia Community Center 1215 Jackson Blvd. Utopia, AR 72445 Time: 12:00pm-5:00pm There will be fun, games, food, and entertainment! Everyone is welcome! If you are in need, please come by and sign up for help! We have all types of programs to sign up for: After school feeding program-Provides meals for hungry children after school Weekend backpack program-provides a backpack with meals for the weekend! feed the children summer feeding program -Provides the children with breakfast, lunch, and snack with summer remediation soup kitchen and meals on wheels- Provides breakfast and lunch on weekends We are here to help: Contact Melanie Andrews, Kristen Catt, and Alison Thompson @ Utopia Elementary School 870-555-0978
Resources “Hunger kills 13,000 Children a day” Sponsor A Child www.worldvision.org Information and ways to get involved http://www.childrensalliance.org/get-involved Hunger Resources http://www.fh.org/learn/resources Child Hunger Program for Companies http://www.childrenshungeralliance.org/ Statistics in the United States http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/hunger-and-poverty-statistics.aspx ***Arkansas ranked number 4 in the US for significant higher household food insecurity rates at 18.6%.*** Bake, Sell, and Buy for Child Hunger http://gabs.strength.org/site/PageServer?pagename=GABS_homepage Dine Out to help Child Hunger http://join.strength.org/site/PageServer?pagename=GADO_homepage
Opposition • Opposing Arguments against child hunger • The major problem against helping end childhood hunger is funding. Expenses can include: staff, equipment, promotional materials, and transportation. People blame it on the economy, but houses are still selling and expensive cars are being bought. “America has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but they are up against a lot: the stigmas and embarrassments that surround hunger, the challenges presented by access to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive.” • Resources: • http://www.strength.org/grants/ • http://www.visualnews.com/2012/05/09/no-kid-hungry-campaign-to-end-childhood-hunger/