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Ahimsa – a perfect mix of Dr. Mantravadi's love for children, background in medicine and Indian heritage.

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Reducing Childhood Food Insecurity in the United States

By Matthew Feltrop

What is (and particularlywhat isn’t) on children’s plates in the United States is prime evidence of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Right before the current health crisis hit, childhood food insecurity affected a staggering 15 million children. Without the consistency of school meals, as well as many households losing income, that number has grown to about 18 million.

As school leaders consider the best way to open their doors to students, they must also place a renewed emphasis on the quality of food served in their cafeterias to address deep inequities that have led to that ballooning statistic.

Particularly for kids, food insecurity has been found to have profound and long-term effects. These include negative impacts on school attendance, behavior, academic performance, and overall health including obesity and related diseases.

While food insecurity affects children of every race and in every zip code in the United States, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted.

The compounded crises of food insecurity, low access to local accessible healthy foods, and years of unequal access to economic opportunities that build financial security are comorbidities that have drastically increased food insecurity for children of color.

In fact, in the latest USDA survey, the rates of childhood food insecurity for children with Black or Latinx parents are triple that of families with white parents. This inequity is simply unacceptable.

 

There is some good news, though. Widespread childhood nutrition programs have proven essential to increasing both food security and health outcomes for children. These programs, like the National School Lunch program,significantly reduce childhood food insecurity.

 

However, not all meal programs are created equally. At The Patachou Foundation, an Indianapolis-based non-profit fighting food insecurity, our focus has always been on providing the best quality meal to students. And post-pandemic, we're increasing that focus by creating long-overdue systems that place parent and student feedback at the center of our meal creation and programming.

Lessons learned from past emergencies highlight the importance of capitalizing on this moment of reset post-pandemic. For example, when rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, 20 Louisiana schools forced food vendors to commit to high-quality ingredients.

Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis presents the same opportunity to focus on equity, quality, and access in school and childhood hunger relief.

Particularly as children return to the classroom, we can and should look to school administrators and policy makers to maximize childhood nutrition programs to address these systemic challenges and racial inequities.

Matthew Feltrop of the Patachou Foundation

Matthew Feltrop is the Executive Director ofThe Patachou Foundation. He leads their disruptive nonprofit model to make a direct impact on childhood food insecurity and low food access in Indianapolis while addressing the underlying systemic causes of hunger. Feltrop believes real food belongs in all zip codes and it is unacceptable that Indianapolis is still facing a debilitating hunger problem. 

The Patachou Foundation serves wholesome meals to children impacted by hunger while increasing their connection to and excitement about real food. The Patachou Foundation serves over 1,500 scratch-made meals each week and leverages the power of and value of food to cultivate an equitable future for youth in Indianapolis.

 

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*This website has been developed by Ahimsa LLC. This site offers health and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. While many of our experts are practicing clinicians, viewing this site, receipt of information contained on this site or the transmission of information from or to this site does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Any information provided is not meant to address a specific situation, person or event, even if you provide information about a specific person or situation to Ahimsa. Always seek the advice of your child’s own physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Please click here for more information on our disclaimer. Effective Date: October 7, 2019, Updated 6/17/2021. © 2021 Ahimsa LLC, All Rights Reserved