|Summer Puts More Children at Risk|
|by Erika Clemens
School is out and summer is quickly approaching, bringing with it an increase in the number of children at risk of hunger. Arizona is currently ranked as the second worst state for childhood hunger, with a child food insecurity rate of 29.9 percent; that is more than 478,420 Arizona children (Map the Meal Gap 2013). The majority of them qualify for federal nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program. However, only 11 percent of these children participate in summer meal programs in Arizona (No Kid Hungry). Thus, these resources are not reaching all of the children, who are in need of them. Sadly this is a nation-wide trend.
This is where the role of food banks, like United Food Bank, and their partners becomes even more vital. During the summer, we have to make up for the meals that ordinarily would be provided at schools. With our partner agencies, we work even harder to ensure children living in food insecure households are getting enough to eat.
Proper nutrition is vital for the health, development and behavior of a child. Food insecurity can be incredibly harmful on children and have long-lasting consequences. During pregnancy, food insecurity can result in birth complications and low birth weights for babies (Feeding America). During infancy, children may experience delayed development, difficulty with affection and learning difficulties. Throughout their childhood, food insecurity can result in a variety of health problems, some requiring hospitalization, making it challenging for children to properly participate in school, social interaction with peers and other activities. Without sufficient nutrition, children are more likely to have behavior problems, like hyperactivity, aggression, mood swings and anxiety. These problems makes it extremely challenging for children to succeed in school, and ultimately have happy and healthy futures.
Our goal is to prevent children from experiencing these complications by ensuring they are getting the healthy food options they need, especially during the summer months. With your support we can accomplish this goal. Our resources can stretch dollars further to help more in need. For just $25, we can feed a child for nearly 6 weeks. Imagine how many children we could help this summer together. To learn more about the impact you can make, please visit our donation page.