Hunger Doesn't Take Weekends Off - Childhood Food Insecurity in Yavapai County

(Courtesy of Thinkstock)

(Courtesy of Thinkstock)

Hello Simply Fit readers. This months blog pertains to a subject that I knew existed in our world, country, and even our state, but I had no idea the extent it reached in my own school district. I am talking about food insecurity. The United States Department of Agriculture states food insecurity is "Consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year".

In 2012, food insecurity affected approximately10,600 (26.4%) children in Yavapai County and a shocking 456,760 (28.2%) children in our state according to Feedingamerica.org. Now stop for a minute and really think about what those number mean. Over one in four children in Yavapai County may not know where their next meal is coming from.

I spoke to a parent the other day who wanted to know if her child could have a little extra food during lunch because she knows that there will be little to nothing waiting for him when he gets home from school. She went on to tell me that over the summer, she fed herself and three kids' peanut butter or bologna sandwiches almost every day. Her story is heartbreaking but not rare.

As I write this, I am blessed to have a full kitchen pantry and refrigerator. In fact, I just finished eating some yogurt before sitting down to my computer without any thought of when I will eat again. Sadly, this is not the reality that many families face.

Fortunately there are many resources available for these children but they all need our help. One program in particular that I admire is the Hungry Kids Project. With the Hungry Kids Project, children are identified by school staff as being food insecure. Then on Fridays during the school year, those children are given enough food for the weekend which consists of two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. There is no paperwork required by the child's family and the whole process is completely confidential. The Hungry Kids Project helps to fill the weekend food void since the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program help provide two nutritious meals during the school day.

The entire program is run by non paid volunteers who acquire the food, organize the food based on type of food, fills student bags, and delivers them to the schools. Not to mention the people who organize fundraising events and help bring awareness to the program. If not for these people, the Hungry Kids Project would not be able to bring food security to the food insecure.

If you are thinking of donating food for this charity, please consider this.

The Hungry Kids Project not only wants to feed children so that they have a better chance of growing into healthy adults, but they also want each child to thrive academically. Donations of any food items are greatly appreciated but it's the donations of higher nutritional value that will give these children that added boost. Please consider purchasing foods like 5-7 ounce cans of tuna or chicken, 16 ounce cans of vegetables, individual fruit cups, 16 ounce plastic jars of peanut butter and boxes of individually wrapped crackers.

Before any of you "judgmental" readers comment on people taking advantage of federal programs and so on, I want you to forcefully stuff it in your self righteous pie hole because a child who is suffering from food insecurity is not suffering by their own hand, and helping that child will enable him or her to be healthier, happier, do better in school, and potentially go on to live healthy productive lives.

To donate:

Humboldt Unified School District - Tami Hitt-Wyant: 928-759-5012

Prescott Unified School District - Carl Brown: 928-717-1050

Chino Valley School District - Becky Davis: 602-301-7320

Peace!