Helping Children Eat & Eat Well

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PSA for Feeding America's Map the Gap Report on Child Food Insecurity

Joel Berg, the director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, told us recently that approximately fifty million Americans, including more than 16 million children, are currently living in food insecure homes. That means 1 out of 6 families don’t have enough money to afford regular meals. Mariana Chilton, the director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, told Bill on the show this week that hunger is very damaging to children. “Food insecurity affects the cognitive, social and emotional growth of very young children.” A study by Chilton’s group found that children who ate poorly or not enough were more likely to be in fair or poor health, be hospitalized, be at risk for developmental delays and to have iron-deficiency anemia than their food secure peers. So how can we help children in our local communities and across the country to eat well?

1. Help deliver food to children all year round. Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign works to ensure that every child has access to nutritious food where he or she lives, learns and plays. Because only 1 out of 7 kids who receive free breakfast or lunch in school also receive meals during summer break, Share Our Strength is working with a network of partners to deliver healthy food to these children. Get involved in your own community by entering your zip code in their action center to see a list of organizations, volunteering and advocacy opportunities.

2. Connect with your leaders. Last week’s defeat of the farm bill in the House has left lawmakers unsure about what direction to take in terms of cuts to funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), which was a controversial part of the defeated bill. You can write or call your representatives to share your thoughts about the SNAP program.

3. Pack a backpack with food. Feeding America’s Backpack Program has been providing children with prepared meals and nutritious food to eat on weekends for over 15 years. According to their website, bags of food are distributed to over 230,000 children every year. Use their food bank locator to contact your local food bank and find out about BackPack programs in your community.

4. Volunteer to teach schoolchildren about nutrition. The Edible Schoolyard Project — started 17 years ago by Alice Waters in Berkeley, Calif. — has blossomed into a nationwide network and resource center with edible education programs in schools across the country. Find out if there is a program near you and learn how you can get involved in the edible education movement.

5. Advocate for yourself or others. One of the big challenges with poverty and hunger is that we seldom hear from those of us who are struggling to put food on the table. Amplifying the voices of families who have experienced hunger firsthand is essential to having a fact-based conversation about solutions for ending hunger. Philadelphia’s Witnesses to Hunger program is a great organization that partners researchers and activists with the real experts on hunger and poverty in their community to advocate for change. Share your own firsthand experiences with hunger, food insecurity and poverty, or help others with firsthand experience to share their stories and expertise on the issues.

If you need help, find out whether you qualify for government programs or food pantries. If you’re interested in finding out more about the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, call 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre (Spanish) or visit the National Hunger Clearinghouse resource directory. You can also help spread the word about summer food programs by downloading flyers to post in your community.

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  • Anonymous

    One sad truth is that Americans no longer know how to prepare nutritious meals. I see grocery carts loaded with soda, chips, and packaged foods, all of which have no nutritional value. Empty calories, porn food, have only calories and leave the body starving for nutrients, so the body keeps eating and can not understand why the body is still starving.
    There are some poor areas where the people eat rice, beans, vegetables, and fish and are so much more healthy. From the China Study we learned that even without the fish; the rice, beans, and vegetables are healthy. If people would leave off the junk food, the rice, beans, and vegetables are not that expensive.
    1 pound of rice, a pound of beans, and a bag of mixed vegetables costs around $5 and can make a lot of food. The truth is that the brain needs folic acid to develop. People get foliates from green vegetables, but children eat mostly fat and starch, a diet woefully short on nutrients.
    We are really healthier without meat, dairy, wheat, candy bars, and chips. Perhaps our taste buds have been corrupted so much with junk food that there is no going back. I think that everyone should have enough healthy food to eat and stay healthy.

  • Maria Whittaker

    We need to organize ourselves to transform the power realtionships and structures that create hunger and malnutrition. The Back PACk program and much of the food on which the poor depend is deadly an unnutritious–chips, pop, hot dogs, white bread. I remember “government Food myself at one time–horrible. We need to make our commitment to end hunger include healthy food so those in need do not end up with the disease they are currently suffering from disproportionately–diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, hypertension et al.

  • Maria Whittaker

    For more nutritious food for all, hungry and those who have enough, we need to organize to get back control of our government and these horrible corporations which are profiting from pushing unhealthy food that tastes good and is addictive much like cigarettes. See Salt Sugar and Fat, How the Big Food Giants addicted us for Profit. HA- this is an issue fo the rich and poor, all of us need to organize ourselves to fight these powerful entities and get back control over our government which is supposed to be promoting our interested but instead is controlled by the corporations and is promoting their profits at the expense of our health and our environment and our future. This is good for none including the corporations and the people and thier families, communities and children who run them. Let us organize for a future for all.

  • Anonymous

    I understand that the food stamp program seems the most efficient way of getting food to those in need, but I much prefer the programs like some of the ones listed, which provide the actual food. I don’t want the government policing what people eat, but if we are going to feed those in need, as we absolutely should, it is ideal to try to provide good, nutritious food, and not a blank check (that can also be traded for drugs, etc.). Thanks, Bill, for the suggestions of how we can help.

  • bluealaskan

    I have actually been approached to purchase food stamps, this is such a corrupt system. Just like the social security system, i know people that get this money that a perfectly capable of working, just get it cause they are lazy.

  • Anna

    It’s easy to say feed kids beans and rice but kids won’t eat that for every meal. I have only one child and no longer qualify for food stamps since I got a job.

    Sadly, we are in much worse shape now that I work. I used to serve fish, vegetables, chicken and healthy salads, yogurt and cheese. I try to still buy those things but I get behind on the rent.

    I am a very good cook, I know how to make nutritious food but it’s expensive. I just bought apples today and they cost almost $5 for just three apples and I chose the cheaper ones.

    My child has celiac so can’t eat any wheat. Bread cost $5 a loaf or I have to buy the special flours and ingredients to bake my own bread.

    We eat a lot of oatmeal, eggs, and beans but my kid misses the good-tasting food I used to make.

    I work full-time, I have a college degree but there are simply aren’t any jobs in my field that pay decently. The solution is for CEOs to make less money and have more jobs for people to make a living wage. I

    t’s mentally and physically exhausting to have to count pennies all the time and that’s the toll that is seldom mentioned. It is extremely stressful to not know if you can buy the food you need, the gas for your car, your car insurance, etc. I just had 2 major car repairs and now I can’t pay the rent. I make too much money to qualify for any government assistance so where do I go?

  • Bob

    Nutritional support programs need to be completely stripped of
    processed foods, period. If not, we are simply feeding the problem. I will not support expansion of food supplement programs until Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, and the like have no influence on legislative decisions. Unfortunately, I am absolutely sure that will never happen. I know so many malnourished kids (and adults) who will not eat healthful foods, even if provided for free. Yes, we qualified for the WIC program when I was a low-ranking military member, so I know what it is like to be on a tight budget. Still, our children’s health came first and we sacrificed luxuries (considered necessities by many) to provide nutritious meals for our kids. In fact, our children grew up with much healthier diets than most, and they grew into healthy, nutrition-conscious adults. We must support re-educating children and young families on real nutrition and high-value, low-cost food preparation. If we can’t do that, the battle against hunger is already lost.

  • Anonymous

    Throw out every food that comes in a box or made in a factory….. it is poisonous to your system and designed to get children hooked at an early age to create a craving for more of this unnutricious food. Kraft, Kellogs, Post, Phillip Morris, Coca Cola, Pepsico, etc…. these are your drug dealers who hook our nation into unhealthy eating habits which eventually kill our bodies and our economy with diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems from too much weight. If people are fat, then they are harming themselves just as if they were smoking or doing “crack”…… it will eventually lead one into an early grave while not having such a good quality of life on the way to very expensive medical care. (does anyone wonder about the higher cost of medicine compared to where it was in the 50′s when foods were prepared from scratch)
    Read and heed some of the data about the excessive salts, fats, and sugars that are put into our foods to make us buy more..more..more. There is hardly one redeeming nutritional thing about any processed food made by food companies… … it is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

  • Kaitlyn Fredricks

    just as Todd said I am blown away that some one able to profit $5811 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you seen this page w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Michael

    Can I copy this and repost.

  • Kimbrely Davis

    Ahh PegasusWing………let the poor eat beans and rice……..yes that’s it !!!! Only 5 bucks!!!!

  • Kim Daivs

    Anna, I feel you pain…..I have not paid my rent either because of car repairs……..so that I can work. I have an 11 yr. old son and struggle a lot. Before I got the job I have now, which is a Paralegal, I had to work for min. wage….full time part time…….any way I received 15$ in food stamps, yes just living the life!

  • Anonymous

    States don’t issue food stamps they issue debit cards, are you asserting debit card sales that require id?

  • Rufus

    Look up the Perfect Health Diet. Lots of recipes for foods that avoid wheat and will also avoid some of the cost of the special flours and other ingredients. You really can live without bread.

  • Anonymous

    Actually that is healthier than the average American diet. I see poor shopping and their carts are filled with soda, chips, macaroni and chemicals. I am not saying give the poor less money on EBT, but if EBT could be set up to encourage families to eat healthier, they would be better off. They can not buy beer or smokes on EBT, but they can buy candy bars, chips, and soda. That hurts their children.

  • Anonymous

    Ridiculous comment.

  • Anonymous

    So let the kids go hungry until you approve the food?