With many schools now back in session, or starting soon, it is unfortunate to know that as many as 20% of children in this country live in food insecure households. While like almost every study the exact percentages vary, the estimated range from sources such as Feeding America, USDA, the Salvation Army and others show a range of about 15% to as high as 20% of kids are food insecure.
When a child does not know where their next meal is coming from, which is the definition of food insecurity, it impacts many aspects of their life. In particular, with school season resuming, it can impact their ability to learn in school. As eating a consistent meal (ideally mostly healthy food) is so important to a child’s overall education.
Lack of food impacts ability to learn in school
While much of this impact to education really should be common sense, as the lack of consistent, ideally healthy food impacts so much in life. Eating poorly, skipping meals, eating fast food, etc. – it should be common sense that all this leads to obesity, impacts cardio vascular of people (including children), and so much more. So it should come as no surprise that the 15 to 20% of children that are food insecure, and do not know when their next meal is coming from, will be negatively impacted in school.
There have been multiple studies that show the negative impact of food insecurity on children and students of all ages. Newborns, infants, kindergarten or elementary age students, teens, high school students and really any younger person has their ability to learn and grow greatly impacted when they lack access to healthy, consistent food.
Some of the studies in question, which support this, include one from the University of Utah, from the Society for Neuroscience, the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning, Emory University and others.
Address child insecurity for students and youth
While there are many causes to poverty, and no one knows all of the exact reasons for it or solutions, the fact is children being food insecure is a huge problem. There are a number of assistance programs, charities, government benefits, and other resources for these 15 to 20% of youth. Be sure to use them to help your child learn, grow and develop both in and out of school.
We have a list of food assistance programs on the main website. But examples of what are available for the millions of children that are food insecure include, but are not limited to, the following.
-Free or low cost school breakfasts and/or lunches from the USDA. As a healthy breakfast is critical to the start of the day and learning.
-Food pantries are located in almost every single town and city in the US, and parents can turn to them for free groceries and more.
-Feeding America Back Pack program allows students to bring home healthy food over the weekend during the school year.
-USDA Summer Meal Program, which can help feed students and children during the holiday seasons.
-Government assistance, which of course the parents need to sign up for. But SNAP food stamps, WIC, TANF cash aid and others can help feed kids.
-Soup kitchens and feeding sites from charities, libraries, and other charities.
-After school programs for meals, snacks, and more.
As noted, these are just an example of what can be done to help feed the up to 20% of children (over 10 millions kids/students) that are food insecure. Find other food programs from the government. Every effort should be made to feed students and children during the year, as nutrition is so important to their overall growth and development.