- In America, over 16 million children struggle with hunger.
- Since 2000, the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. is up nearly 20 percent.
- Nearly half of the 44 million Americans on food stamps today are children.
- One-fourth of all U.S. children are enrolled in the food stamp program.
- 10.5 million kids eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not get it.
Most of us think of children starving as an issue “over there.” We equate it with children with distended bellies in a third-world country, especially those suffering the effects of a civil war, drought, or famine. While this is part of the picture, we need to open our eyes and see what is happening in our own neighborhoods.
While the recent economic collapse didn’t start the problem, it certainly has expedited it. With higher unemployment, inflation, and home foreclosures, more and more families are living at or below the poverty line. Children—through no fault of their own—are caught in the middle of a fiscal mess with damaging repercussions.
You see, a child going hungry isn’t just a moral issue. A hungry child is at a distinct disadvantage. A hungry child’s body doesn’t develop as it should without proper nutrition. A hungry child is sick more often, recovers more slowly, and is more likely to be hospitalized. A hungry child is more susceptible to obesity as an adult.
A hungry child’s ability to concentrate and learn in the classroom is hindered. A hungry child has significantly higher levels of behavioral problems, such as increased aggressiveness and anxiety. A hungry child is more likely to be suspended from school and has increased difficulty getting along with other kids. In fact, scientific evidence suggests that a hungry child is less likely to grow-up and become a productive citizen.
And with the summer approaching, things get worse. With school out of session, the one square meal that many children count on to get them through the day will be gone even though there are summer programs to help. Unfortunately, 6 out of 7 eligible kids do not get free summer meals.
We are mortgaging our country’s future, and the ones that suffer the most can’t do anything about it.
Despite reports that the U.S. economy is recovering, the number of people relying on food assistance continues to increase. Right now, the average American spends approximately 23 percent of his or her income on food and gas. As inflation continues to take hold, that number will continue to rise.
Families continue to work hard to make something better for themselves, but their dollars just don’t go far enough. It’s critical to make you aware of the problem in America and I encourage you to do your part to protect your family by building a food supply, so when you do tuck your children in at night, they truly are “safe and sound.”