The Food Network recently aired a powerful special, Hunger Hits Home, about childhood hunger in the United States that shed light on a problem we don’t often acknowledge in the way we should. Though one in six people* struggle with hunger in the U.S., it’s not often at the forefront of news programming nor is the average person aware of the gravity of the situation. See a preview of the special here.
My local community, a family-friendly city with pockets of extreme wealth, is not often considered an area with poverty or lack of resources. The reality, however, is that 68 percent of students in our public school district qualify for free or reduced lunch programs – these students are among the 20 million kids nationwide who qualify*. What seems to surprise many, is the fact that families who qualify for free or reduced lunch, SNAP (food stamps) and/or WIC, are often working families whose income simply isn’t enough to support basic needs. This dispels a myth I often hear – people on federal assistance programs are lazy. In an uncertain economy, the only way for some families to serve nutritious meals with fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, meats and dairy, is to use these programs, despite feelings of shame and embarrassment. Just the other day, as I was waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, a woman, clearly trying not to draw attention to herself was mortified when the cashier made it clear she was using SNAP. For more information on what SNAP and WIC are clickhere.
Hunger is an education issue and there are countless programs doing amazing work to provide food for their communities, What is your community doing well to ensure students are well-fed and ready to be productive in the classroom?
*Statistic according to Hunger Hits Home