According to NOKID Hungry, over 13 million household children in the US experience food insecurity. Notice these are household figures, eliminating homelessness as a juxtaposition for the cause of hunger that these particular children experience.
Although most of these homes are in urban areas (25% of urban homes), the issue of food insufficiency effects homes in rural America and suburbs as well. In Washington D.C., a whopping 30.5% of homes are facing food insecurity. What makes this circumstance of food insecurities less visible is that it is locked behind closed doors, where the suffering can go unknown and unseen by others. 35.1% of these homes facing this crisis are headed by women.
For many children from these homes, the free school lunch is the meal that keeps them from outright hunger but what happens when a child is living in a home that is experiencing food shortage and summer vacation rolls around, as it soon will? The answer is that these children end up in a more dire situation, where food is concerned, as they face increased paucity of daily meals during summer vacation.
Although the Department of Agriculture administers a summer food program, only 18% (4 million) of the 21.7 million kids that receive free lunches take advantage of the program. The mix of reasons stem from poverty aligned factors that range from access difficulties to violent, unsafe neighborhoods. The good news is that the Department of Agriculture is not the only involved effort.
Organizations such as GrubUP, in Pittsburg, are creating solutions by finding the kids and bringing the food to them. This may be at pools, recreation centers or other areas where kids are populated during summer break. These are all incredible childhood counter reaction services going up against the challenge of childhood hunger in America.
Of course physically, childhood hunger wrecks havoc on their young bodies but it also shames them, creates low self esteem and feelings of isolation (unable to understandother kids are experiencing food insecurities and hunger as well as developmental, behavioral and academic problems. With a nation as strong and wealthy as America, we can do better. Summer vacation should bring our children joy, fun and a really cool time away from school work, not increased hunger.