Nearly 17 million children live at the risk of hunger in the United States – or 1 in 4 that are‘food insecure’ not knowing where their next meal will come from.
This may be surprising with the wealth of resources that surround us and number of school programs in place. The fact though is that there are an invisible group of children that are either homeless or live in households without the parental or adult support required to provide basic life necessities, such as food.
Child hunger affects many aspects of children’s lives, from physical and mental development to emotional well-being.
Below are some of the issues associated with childhood hunger.
For emotional, cognitive, and physical reasons, a hungry or undernourished child faces significant educational challenges. School attendance and academic performance both suffer due to student undernourishment. Food insufficiency—often caused by missed breakfast—diminishes a child’s ability to retain knowledge, concentrate, and develop language and math skills.
Children from many poor families receive less than 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of major nutrients. This deficiency translates into increased risk for serious and costly health problems, including anemia, impaired cognitive development, and stunted growth. Children suffering from hunger or near hunger are also less likely to have access to sufficient medical care.
Food insufficiency also hinders children’s social development. Studies show that child hunger may be linked to behavioral problems, delayed social development, anxiety, and other emotional problems.
kidsPACK is a safety net of community support to ensure that children are fed and nourished. No child should go hungry.