Child Hunger in America

It is a mystery: Why are there are still hungry children in a world full of food? Though many Americans thinking about “world hunger” tend to picture African babies with bloated stomachs, the sad fact is that between 12 and 14 million children in the United States are hungry, “food insecure” or at risk for hunger.

The problem of food-insecure American children is massive and widespread, affecting more than 1 in 10 households. Food insecurity – lacking access to “enough healthy food to thrive” – is even worse for children in households headed by single mothers (3 in 10) and those at or below the poverty line (almost 4 in 10).

Various non-profit groups, university researchers and think tanks – along with agencies of the federal government, particularly the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture – study and report on hunger in America. Statistics are important, as we need to know the nature of a problem in order to solve it. However, let us never forget these numbers represent those most vulnerable: children.

In fact, far too many are young children in their most important, formative years. Almost a quarter (23.1% according to the Census Bureau) of all food-insecure homes have children under 6 years old. The impact of hunger on a child’s growth and development – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual – is profound. Our collective commitment to helping these children must be equally powerful.

Our mission is straightforward: feeding hungry children. The benefits are enormous to our country as a whole when we help at-risk children avoid the additional colds, illnesses, headaches, infections and fatigue that occur in food-insecure homes. In a time when so much confusion reigns in discussions of health care, food safety and obesity, it is abundantly clear that feeding the hungry, and helping those at risk, is an excellent investment for the future.

Without adequate nutrition, children have more mental health issues in addition to the physical ailments. They also experience a greater number of hospitalizations and costly interventions, many of which would be unnecessary with proper nutrition. Helping children before these conditions develop can mean dramatic healthcare savings for society as a whole.

Feeding children is good because it creates other good results, and there are other arguments one can make for feeding hungry children. This brings up a very important question, one that everyone should consider carefully:

Isn’t it enough to know that children are hungry, and that there is a way to help them, for us to take action? Do we really need any other motivation to know that feeding them is the right thing to do?

About Caring 4 Kids Editor

Russell is the Co-Founder and CEO of Augimo, and the volunteer webmaster for the Caring 4 Kids Foundation.

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One Response to “Child Hunger in America”

  1. AmpleHarvest.org March 12, 2012 3:08 am #

    In these challenging economic times, there is a partial solution to childhood hunger that costs virtually nothing to implement.

    AmpleHarvest.org is a national non-profit campaign connecting gardeners to the food pantries in their communities eager to receive their excess garden harvest. Food pantries register for free on the site and gardeners use the zip code search to find them.

    While some gardeners plant extra to share, others simply donate what they can’t use, save or give to friends, so they’re really incurring no extra cost aside from the time & gas to deliver their produce to the pantry. (Although some pantries & gleaning organizations will even pick it up!)

    Fresh fruits and vegetables are so important for children; and people of all ages should have access to food that is nutritious. Produce donations fight hunger, malnutrition and childhood obesity, providing healthy options that might not otherwise be available.

    To learn more about neighbors feeding hungry neighbors visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org.

    To help pantries in your community register on the site and to help get the word out to gardeners and growers please visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org/waystohelp.

    To find a pantry visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org/pantry.

    Thanks so much for spreading the word and for caring for kids!

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