Hunger doesn’t just harm the physical health of children; it affects nearly every aspect of their lives, from self-worth to academic performance to socialization.
According to the American Psychological Association, hunger is associated with anxiety and depression in children. In adolescents, hunger is associated with depressive disorders and suicidal tendencies.
The distraction of hunger also makes schoolwork more difficult. Research has shown that hungry children have lower math scores and are more likely to repeat a grade. And being hungry while others are fed can make children feel ashamed, isolated, and inferior. Hungry children have been found to have low levels of self-efficacy, which means that they don’t believe they can achieve their goals.
Hunger doesn’t need to happen.
While temporary assistance is important, long-term legislative change will be needed to solve this problem. Sure, to the average person, the services a policy nonprofit provides is a little less tangible than what a direct-service nonprofit provides, so it needs some extra explaining. (We can’t really point to facilities or backpacks full of donated food.)
What we can point to is the kid sitting in first period, well-fed and able to focus because they could participate in the School Breakfast Program which we’ve worked to expand and curated a website to compile research and data, and provide guidance for participation.
We can point to one out of the millions of nutritious meals served to Florida’s children at their local Summer BreakSpot site during a hot summer. In fact, we can point to the Summer BreakSpot campaign, an aggressive branding of the Summer Food Service Program with the (achieved, exceeded) goal of reaching more children throughout the state. Before this branding and networking was picked up by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (yay!) we even ran a direct hotline which connected hungry kids to Summer BreakSpot sites near them. (Nowadays you can just text “FoodFL” to 877-877 to find your nearest site, by the way.)
We can point to the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in December 2010 when suppers were authorized nationwide as part of the Afterschool Meals Program. This was a result of relentless advocacy from Florida Impact to End Hunger and incredible community advocates and local leaders, working with our elected members of Congress.
We can point to a project currently in the works which will bring healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida’s food deserts…more on that soon…
And so much more.
At Florida Impact to End Hunger, we’re working to help pass laws that guarantee families and their children are provided consistent meals by law — and we won’t stop until every child is fed.
Graphic Design (and former Summer BreakSpot Hotline Operator 😉)
Florida Impact to End Hunger