For far too many children in the U.S., getting three square meals a day, every day, is not guaranteed. Roughly 1 in 5 children live in poverty and are going hungry.
Congress now has a once-in-five-years opportunity to end child hunger. Shouldn’t they?
In America, 14% of households (roughly 1 in 7) are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to nutritious meals. The startling level of food insecurity among children is second only to its peak in 2009, during the worst of the Great Recession. These 15 million U.S. children living in food insecure households do not always get the food they need to live a healthy, active life.
Hunger and food insecurity have negative impacts on all people but are particularly devastating for children. Good nutrition is essential for proper growth and development; the consequences of poor child nutrition can last a lifetime.
Children living in food insecure households are at least twice as likely to have health concerns; their lack of good nutrition puts them at an increased risk of obesity and related health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Hungry children are more likely to have psychological and behavioral problems, and particularly problems at school, where they’re also more likely to have lower grades and increased nurse visits.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. We have an opportunity right now to end child hunger.
There are a number of federal programs that make sure at-risk and hungry children get access to nutritious food. Millions of children living in poverty in the U.S. depend on these federal child nutrition programs for many of their meals.
The current legislation that provides these programs is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which
- provides children with nutritionally balanced meals in school, after school, in summer programs, in day care programs, and in their homes;
- makes sure that infants, toddlers, and school-age children get enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins to meet their nutritional needs in the short-term and helps them adopt healthy eating habits for the long-run.
Although these programs are extremely beneficial for the health and well-being of children, they are at risk. Congress must update and authorize the legislation for these child nutrition programs every 5 years.
The deadline for Congress to approve Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) was September 30, 2015. They also have yet to approve a number of bills that members of Congress wrote to expand and strengthen child nutrition programs to reach more hungry children.
What You Can Do
Your voice has power. Tell your legislator how critical child nutrition programs like high quality school meals, afterschool and summer meals, and WIC are in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
Use our interactive form to send an email to your U.S. Senators and Representative NOW.
With strong child nutrition programs, we can end child hunger.