Summer & School Meal ProgramsSummer meal programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agencies give children access to meals during these critical months. According to the Food Research & Action Center's Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, "during July 2015, the Summer Nutrition Programs served nearly 3.2 million low-income children, a modest increase of 11,000 (0.3 percent) from July 2014." Consequently, 16.2 million children live in food insecure households. In spite of programs that are available to help children locally, far too many children are going hungry during the summer.
During the school year, the USDA administers the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program; however more students take advantage of the school lunch program rather than the breakfast program. Students that power up at breakfast are better able to prepare their brains and bodies for the day ahead. Ensuring that students eat a healthy breakfast is important.
Viola Davis Speaks OutMany children suffer from hunger silently. Through a joint initiative between the Entertainment Industry and the Albertsons Foundation, Actress Viola Davis is leading the charge to bring attention to the issue of childhood hunger by sharing her story of how hunger affected her as a child.
"Growing up, I was among the 1 in 5 American kids who struggled with hunger. And hungry mornings make tired days," she revealed in a new public service announcement.
This type of awareness campaign is critical in the fight against hunger. It is oftentimes the platform to kick-start the proper dialogue that can begin to improve the health of all children.
No Kid HungryA notable champion in the fight against childhood hunger is Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all children have access to healthy food every day by "connecting them to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals." They have also made "ending child hunger a national priority."
Deloitte along with the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices released a new report Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis. The report found that "food insecurity can have negative impacts on children's health and academic achievement. These impacts on individual children can add up to significant consequences for American society as whole." One notable quote in a school breakfast brochure No Kid Hungry Starts with Breakfast related to the Deloitte findings highlights an elementary school teacher having a dialogue with a student.
"One of my students this year came up to me during a test and said she was having trouble. When I asked her which question she needed help with, she answered, 'I don't need help with questions, I need help because I'm hungry and I can't think.'"
How You Can HelpSo as you add a thumbs-up or a heart to that Facebook post, remember to be a champion or a voice for a child in need. September is Hunger Action Month, Feeding America's campaign to bring awareness to hunger. You can find ways to get involved all month. No Kid Hungry is also a great resource to find out ways to help a child get access to nutritious food every day.
And when January and February roll around, talk to your local charities to see what they need to help fight childhood hunger. Then, host a Souper Bowl of Caring collection. You can make a difference now and throughout the entire school year for those children in need.