Understanding Childhood Hunger
More than 16.7 million children in America – that’s one in four – are at risk of hunger, suffer food insecurity on a regular, often times daily, basis. And it is likely that these children will endure lifelong consequences as a result of having limited access to nutritious foods.
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.8 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.
Hunger In Maryland
Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the country and home to four of the richest counties in the nation, however 12.5% of households in Maryland face a constant struggle against hunger.
The high cost of living in Maryland, contributes to the struggle many families face to pay their housing, transportation and utility bills. These same families must make choices that often lead to hunger and poor nutrition. Many children often go without meals and parents wonder if they will have enough food to last until their next paycheck.
Making sure children have nutritious food where they live, learn and play is important. Hungry children have trouble concentrating, get more headaches and infections, are more likely to be hospitalized and are less likely to perform well on athletic fields and in the classrooms.
It’s simply much harder for children at risk of hunger who suffer food insecurity to thrive. Here’s a snapshot of childhood hunger in Maryland in 2013:
- 365,000 children are at risk of hunger in Maryland
- 178,000 children live below the poverty line
- 162,932 households with children participate in the Food Supplement Program
- Only 37.37% of all Maryland school children eat school breakfast
- 48,083 children participate in a summer meals program on an average day vs. 256,735 children who get school lunch on an average day.
- 434 (27%) of 1,634 licensed center-based childcare providers participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Take Action To End Childhood Hunger
There are national campaigns that are at work in all 50 states that have state and city-based campaigns, nutrition education programs, and investments in local community partners of which you can donate time and or monies toward the campaign.
We must work to shine a national spotlight on the crisis of childhood hunger in America, creating a powerful movement committed to providing solutions within the communities we serve. We must be committed to build partnerships that enlist individuals committed in the cause and advocate policy changes needed to achieve our goals.