Food insecurity — the limited or uncertain access to enough food — is a critical child health issue that impacts children and families in all communities. Unfortunately, 1 in 6 U.S. children lives in a food-insecure household. Children who live in households that are food insecure, even at the least severe levels of food insecurity, are likely to be sick more often, recover from illness more slowly and be hospitalized more frequently.
This issue is so important that in a policy statement, Promoting Food Security for All Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatricians screen for food insecurity and intervene accordingly for all kids.
At baseline, prior to COVID, certain children and households are more likely to be food insecure.
- Food insecurity rates for black and Hispanic households are substantially above the national average.
- Households outside metropolitan areas (more rural areas) are seeing considerably deeper struggles with food insecurity compared to those within metropolitan areas.
- Unemployment and underemployment are strongly associated with food insecurity.
- Children in immigrant families, large families, families headed by single women, families with less education and families experiencing parental separation or divorce are at greater risk for food insecurity.
Every one of those at-risk children are now facing a world with increasing stress due to COVID-19 which is unveiling societal inequalities that already exist and accelerating those inequalities. So - if food insecurity — even marginal food insecurity — is detrimental to children’s health, developmental and mental health at baseline - these children are now left with a series of problems that exacerbates that risk.
Children are not in school to receive their subsidized meals. Parents are unemployed, limiting their ability to put food on the table. Many families already have limited access to a primary health care provider and now are too scared to come to the emergency room when ill for fear of contracting COVID. Many families share their homes with multiple generations, in small apartments and without access to open areas to play - causing increased stress on mental health.
A new report by Feeding America finds that the number of food-insecure children could escalate to 18 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, an increase in the unemployment rate of 7.6% coupled with a 5% increase in the child poverty rate would result in a 9.3% increase in the child food-insecurity rate—bringing the total child food-insecurity rate potentially to 24.5%. In the wake of the pandemic, that would mean 1 in 4 children could face hunger in America this year. At the same time, stay at home orders and school closures are leaving many food banks facing increased demand, a decline in food donations and fewer volunteers.
You cannot necessarily tell by outward appearance who is food insecure. So, as a fellow mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or just as a fellow human being - what can you do to help?
- You can donate to organizations like the Patachou Foundation, Feeding America and No Kid Hungry
- If you know someone who is struggling, you can order groceries on Instacart or other grocery delivery services and have it delivered to them.
- You can also call your local food pantry and see what their current needs are.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, we have donated portions of proceeds (can still donate in link below) to the Indianapolis-based Patachou Foundation. Last November, Team Ahimsa met Rachael Ray at the Indiana Conference for Women. It was love at first sight, but we fell even more in love with her when we learned more about her Yum-o! Organization. The tagline is Cook. Feed. Fund. Just last month Yum-o! and the Rachael Ray Foundation donated $4 MILLION for COVID-19 relief. How amazing?! We admire Rachael's use of her powerful platform to help kids in our communities. She, along with the hard working members of all these organizations, serve as an inspiration to our team here at Ahimsa. Visit Yum-o below to find out more about these organizations who are fighting childhood food insecurity below.
By offering stainless steel dinnerware, Ahimsa's mission is to get plastic OFF the table. But even more important, we want to put healthy food ON the table for every child - no matter their zip code. Join us in our efforts to advocate for children’s health today and every day. We aim to DO better and BE better for our kids - because, really - why wouldn’t we?
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