For years I’ve watched the campaigns for improving school lunches for children from afar. I saw Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as he set forth to ensure all children have access to good and nutritious meals, stating that it was every child’s right. Along with her Let’s Move! campaign, Michelle Obama implemented new standards in public schools that mandated them to meet a minimum of fruit, vegetable and whole grain servings and a maximum of sodium, sugar and fat contents.
In the past year, I started to really take an interest in the availability and accessibility of fresh and nutritious meals for all families. However, when I looked into local school lunches in my area, I came across national statistics and studies that were truly staggering.
- 48.8 million Americans, including 16.2 million children, struggle with hunger.
- 3 out of 4 teachers say their students come to school hungry.
- Food insecurity (the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food) exists in 17.2 million households in America, 3.9 million of them with children.
- 25% of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure.
- 6 out of 7 low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer.
- More than 20 million kids get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day. But only 9.8 million – fewer than half — of those kids get free or reduced-price school breakfast.
What Studies Show:
Studies show that kids who eat school breakfast:
- Have higher attendance
- Have less tardies
- Make better grades
- Are more likely to graduate high school
What you can do to help:
No Kid Hungry is a campaign created by Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization, that has been working tirelessly to end child hunger in America.
The No Kid Hungry campaign connects children in need with nutritious meals and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.
1. Spread the word. Share this information and other information from the No Kid Hungry website with your friends and family on social media.
2. Donate/Raise Funds. Your tax-deductible gift will provide vulnerable kids with nutritious food and teach their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. Or hold a fundraiser within your local community!
3. Lead a Cooking Matter tour. No one works harder to keep kids fed than their parents. Through NKH’s Cooking Matters program, families are given the tools they need to cook healthy meals and stretch their food budgets. Learn more about facilitating a Cooking Matters at the Store tour in your community.
4. Start a community garden. Starting a garden in a community builds and strengthens relationships, teaches families about cultivating their own fresh food, but also allows families access to healthy fruits and vegetables at a lower cost.
5. Locate meals sites that prepare free meals for children in your area. In the the past few years, hospitals, libraries, and schools have opened their doors to children to assist in providing free meals. Find out more in your area and spread the word. Text the word ‘FOOD’ to 977-877 to find free summer meals in your neighborhood.
6. Write to your local congressman. Congress is working to reauthorize the Farm Bill, legislation that provides funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, formerly known as food stamps. Drastic cuts to SNAP are on the table and nearly half of all SNAP participants are children. If Congress cuts funding for this poverty relieving program, it will affect millions of children and families, leaving them even more vulnerable to hunger.
So please join me in fighting to help end child hunger in America. Whatever you can do, no effort is too little or small.