It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized how much children rely on adults for help. In the best cases, a child has parents and a loving extended family, and wants for nothing. In the worst cases, a child has a neglectful family, and doesn’t get basic needs met, emotionally or physically.
Some children have loving parents who work their hardest, but still can’t make ends meet. Many lost their jobs when the economy crashed, and providing essentials for their children became next to impossible. I can only imagine what it might be like to not be able to meet my child’s needs: I would be devastated. For families like these —including 16 million kids (one of every 5 children nationwide)—hunger is a very real concern.
Children have no control over their situation. When their parents can’t provide for their basic needs, it is our responsibility to step in and help. According to No Kid Hungry, nearly half of the recipients of food stamps are children. About 9.8 million kids get free or reduced price breakfast at school, but 10.6 million eligible children receive nothing. And of the children who receive reduced price lunches, only one in seven receives breakfast during the summer.
The impact of hunger on children is distressing, according to Feeding America:
- Kids who face hunger are 90 percent more likely to have their overall health rated as “fair/poor,” and face increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, and illnesses.
- Ninety percent of teachers say that a healthy breakfast is key to academic achievement. Hungry children are unable to concentrate, have poor academic performance, and complain of headaches and stomach aches.
- Childhood hunger is linked to significant health problems in adulthood.
It is heartbreaking to think that millions of American children go to bed hungry every night, only to wake up to no breakfast. The good news is this: You can help.
Raise Awareness. Did you know how dire the hunger problem is? I certainly didn’t, and chances are, you have friends and family who don’t know either. Talk about it! Tell your loved ones. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Start a conversation.
Donate. There are a lot of charities doing fantastic work to fight hunger in the United States. And surprisingly, it takes very little to make a huge impact. For example, a donation of just $46 to No Child Hungry can feed a child for an entire year. And $25 to Feeding America provides an incredible 200 meals for hungry families.
Tomorrow, when you have your breakfast – whether it’s a bagel on the run, or a French toast feast – think about the kids who have nothing, and make a decision to help. Forfeit just one meal at a restaurant in favor of a meal at home, and donate the difference—you’ll help a lot of hungry kids. Just imagine their smiles, and how grateful they’ll be to have food to eat.