How often throughout the day do you think to yourself, “I’m hungry?” If you’re like me, it’s quite often – I think about food ALL THE TIME.
But the question I’m posing today is, “Are you really hungry, or do you just like to eat?”
There is a difference, and today I’m taking a moment to think about that.
This Saturday is Stamp Out Hunger day, which means that you can leave a bag or box of non-perishable food beside your mailbox, and your mail carrier will pick it up and it will be distributed to people in need.
I think it is especially poignant that this day occurs the day before Mother’s Day. A mother’s greatest responsibility in life is to provide a nurturing environment for her children. In large part, this means providing healthy, nutritious meals for them. If she’s nursing, this means she needs to make sure she’s getting the nutrition she needs. If she’s unable to nurse, or has moved beyond nursing, it means having the tools she needs to cook healthful meals for her family.
There are millions of people in this country suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Many of these are children.
These children do not have a choice in their circumstance, nor do they have the ability to change their circumstance. It is imperative that those of us with the ability to help provide the families of these children with the assistance they need to make healthy, nutritious choices for them. This is not a political statement, it is simply a plea for compassion. When you have a population that is unable to make decisions and choices for themselves, someone needs to advocate for them.
According to Share Our Strength:
Why Childhood Hunger Is ImportantHunger impairs our children’s health in significant and long-lasting ways:
- Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often, recover more slowly, and are more likely to be hospitalized, at an average cost of $12,000 per pediatric stay.
- They are more likely to experience headaches, stomachaches, colds, ear infections and fatigue.
- Children who face hunger are more susceptible to obesity and its harmful health consequences as children and as adults.Hunger impedes our children’s ability to learn and perform academically.
- Undernourished children under the age of 3 cannot learn as much, as fast or as well .
- Lack of enough nutritious food impairs a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school.
- Children who don’t get enough nutritious food are more susceptible to the negative effects of skipping breakfast on their ability to think and learn.Hunger predisposes our children to emotional and behavioral difficulties:
- Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food have have more behavioral, emotional and academic problems and tend to be more aggressive and anxious.
- Teens who regularly do not get enough to eat are more likely to be suspended from school and have difficulty getting along with other kids.
Food Security49.1 million Americans – including nearly 17 million children – lack the means to regularly put enough nutritious food on the table . They are food insecure and struggle with hunger.Food insecurity exists in 14.6% of all U.S. households:
- 42.2% of all households at or below the poverty line
- 37.2% of all single-mom households
- Families struggling with hunger experience three or more symptoms of food insecurity during seven months of the year, on average.
- Symptoms of food insecurity include running out of food without money to buy more, cutting portion sizes or skipping meals, and not feeding children in the family because there isn’t money for food.
- For about one-fourth of families struggling with hunger, symptoms are frequent or chronic.Food insecure families (17.1 million households) struggle with hunger.
- 83.6% live in major metropolitan areas
- 67.7% live above the poverty line
- 52.1 % are white
- 48.7% (8.3 million) have kids under 18Food insecurity affects nearly 17 million children in America.
- 34% more than last year
- 48.7% live in married-couple families
- 41.9% live in single-mom families
- 41.2% live at or below the poverty line
- 40.3% live in the South
- 35.5% live in cities outside of major metro areas
Our local food pantry is struggling daily to keep their shelves stocked – it seems as fast as they receive donations, their shelves are empty again. They just can’t keep up with the growing need. This is not just a holiday problem – it is a year-round, ongoing struggle for many families.
Whether you choose to leave food by your mailbox on Saturday, deliver a bag or box to your local food pantry, or donate to Share Our Strength, you can make a difference.
Share Our Strength has a mission to end childhood hunger by 2015. This seems like a daunting task. But I think that if all of us (food bloggers, food blog readers, people who love food, people who respect food, people in general) do what we can to help, they (we) can achieve that goal.