The topic of food security and poverty can be terribly uncomfortable to discuss. The thought of individuals having to go without any food, let along nutritious, healthy, and life sustaining meals can be a depressing and overwhelming one. It is hard enough to think of a human being starving and fearful of when and where their next meal might arrive, but when the human in question is a child, the frustration and sadness can become overwhelming.
It is hard to think of children in the United States having to worry about food security, and it is terrifying to think of a child in the United States starving, however these are both realities that are in our midst. In the United States, nearly 20% of families with children experience some level of food insecurity. In nearly 10% of these homes, the adults in the family are the only ones who experience the reduction of food or nutrition. In other words, 1 in 10 American parents choose to go hungry themselves instead of their child. Nearly 10% of parents sacrifice food in order to provide for their child. The other 10% of these families cannot shelter their children from the lack of food, and the lack of food security effects the child directly. In 1%, or 422,000 households, the children experience regular disrupted eating patterns and extreme reduction of food intake.
When a child is occupied with the thoughts of starving or the pressure of finding food, common childhood experiences are lost. If a child is worried about their next meal, they often can’t be bothered to study for school. If a child is pained by a rumbling belly, they are less likely to go outside and play with their peers. When a child is starving, their world cannot move forward, and their future can be significantly affected. It is uncomfortable to think of anyone in the United States not getting enough to eat, but it is unacceptable for any of those individuals to be young and innocent children. For these children, food security is future security.