In honor of National Nutrition Month, we would like to bring some spotlight and attention to the growing epidemic of hungry children in our schools. As someone who regularly attends and observes classes, I have seen the difference that a school breakfast and school lunch make on children’s behavior. I would like to encourage everyone to take a look and perhaps even pledge to bring awareness to this issue.
Effective nutrition programs help kids get the food they need.
Federal nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children build healthy minds and bodies. Unfortunately, statistics show that these resources are not reaching all the kids who need them. Consider the data below, all from the year 2010:
Childhood Food Insecurity:
North Dakota 10.6%
New Hampshire 16.2%
South Dakota 18.5%
New Jersey 18.5%
Rhode Island 21.3%
West Virginia 21.7%
New York 21.8%
South Carolina 26.4%
North Carolina 26.7%
District of Columbia 28.0%
What does this mean? Childhood food insecurity is the percentage of children under eighteen years old living in households that experience limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods at some point.
48.8 million Americans — including 16.2 million children — live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.
Food insecurity — the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food — exists in 17.2 million households in America, 3.9 million of them with children.
Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1% of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households.
Food insecurity is most common in large cities but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities
- 25 % of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure.
The typical (median) food-secure household spent 27 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition.
59% of food-insecure households reported that in the previous month they had participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs: SNAP (formerly food stamps), School Lunch and WIC. (Source link nokidhungry.org)
Let’s talk about what this means for the classroom. Children without food and who suffer from hunger insecurity are not able to fully focus on their assignments, the lesson or behave as well as possible in the classroom. This has profound impact, way beyond the child. It drains resources from the teacher because of classroom management issues and, even if your child has a belly full of food, can lead to a detracted learning experience. During this month in which we examine the importance of nutrition, look at what you may be able to do as a family to prevent or alleviate hunger insecurity in your community. Here at BeyondTutoring, we donate our time to local shelters and food pantries. In all of our literacy activities, in which we volunteer, we ensure that there is a snack available for all children and families.
The ways in which to contribute to the issue of hunger in our schools is substantial. Even if your child has a disability, a good way to teach perspective and gratitude is to prepare lunches or gather up unused pantry items and donate them as a family to a local shelter or pantry. It definitely puts much-needed perspective into all families. How are you going to acknowledge National Nutrition Month?