Child hunger in America is a growing problem. In the US 10.5% of people live in poverty with 12 million of these people being children. 13.6% of children live in food-insecure households. Being food insecure means families do not have enough food for every member of their household. These appalling rates mean that 1 in 4 children face hunger every day. Not having enough to eat can be detrimental. Studies show that kids who do not have enough food have higher rates of behavior problems, social problems, poor school attendance, and lower academic achievement. Children who face hunger are also more likely to be hospitalized and have health problems such as asthma and anemia. The families of these children are struggling and cannot afford food. Many families will buy the cheapest food possible to have something to give to their children. These foods are often very low quality and unhealthy with options such as fast food, junk food, and highly processed foods. The poor quality of these foods causes nutrient deficiencies and higher obesity rates.
Schools have made an effort to help these children, by providing breakfast and lunch through federally funded programs. Over 30 million children eat school lunch and 22 million of those children qualify for free or reduced lunch. Food provided by the school may be the only meal the child eats that day and is often the most nutritious. School lunches provide over a 3rd of the recommended daily nutrients for children. Many schools have also started to offer snacks to these children as well, to help keep them full throughout the day.
However, when school finishes in June, these children are even more uncertain of where their next meal will come from. This has never been more true than it is now. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting many schools down early, access to food has become even more restricted. Many schools have set up grab-and-go stations for families to come and collect food or even deliver to students' homes. These meal services have also been planned to extend into summer. Services like these are being provided by feeding America, no kid hungry, and Kids-Lift. Free meals are also now being offered to any child regardless of household income until June 3oth, 2022. The extra cost of extending these programs and the amount of need for them has been financially draining. In 2019-2020 54% of school lunch programs reported financial loss and there is an expected loss of 62% for these programs in 2020-2021. The federal government simply cannot keep up with the extra demand being put on school lunch programs.
These programs and the communities they serve are in desperate need of help. At Kids-Lift we believe that every child has the opportunity to reach higher and achieve greater in school and beyond. By providing children with the materials they need to succeed we are strengthening our community and future. Get involved with Kids-Lift by signing up for our newsletter here.