Food insecurity: What it is and what you can do to battle it

Have you ever heard the term “food insecurity” used during a television news cast or read about it in your local newspaper and wondered just what is that meant? Learn what it is and what it has to do with children.

Food insecurity results when children are uncertain about their ability to have food to eat. Data recently released by No Kid Hungry shows that approximately 16.6 million, or 22.4 percent, of all children in the United States are hungry every day. That’s 1 in every 5 kids. Sixty-two percent of teachers in the U.S. see children coming to school hungry every day. Often the only meal these children receive if they’re lucky enough to be school-aged is the lunch provided at their school Monday through Friday.

Research shows that hungry children:

  • Have lower grades in school
  • Perform poorly on tests
  • Tend to get sick more often
  • Are less likely to graduate from high school

What can you do to help end this national problem? Here are some suggestions to help feed a hungry child in your area:

  • Contact your local school district and ask if they participate in weekend back pack programs. These programs furnish a back pack full of nutritious foods to feed a child over the weekend while not in school. Ask for a list of recommended foods to purchase and donate or volunteer to help pack the back packs.
  • Contact your local school district to see if they offer before school breakfast and summer meal programs.
  • While doing your weekly food shopping, take advantage of two for one sales and donate the second item to your local food pantry.
  • Once a month check your pantry for non-perishable foods that you can donate to a food bank.
  • Use special events such as birthdays or graduations to collect donations for food banks or back pack programs.
  • Make food pantry donations a year long commitment, not just during the holiday season.
  • Contact your local congressman and encourage them to support the Farm Bill which provides funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progrgram formerly known as food stamps).

All it takes is a few minutes of our time and we can help end child hunger. By all of us acting together child food insecurity could come to be a term of the past.

For more information about nutrition, disease prevention and other issues of interest to Michigan families contact a Michigan State University Extension educator in your area, either by visiting www.people.msue.msu.edu or calling toll-free at 888-MSUE-4-MI (888-678-3464).

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