Current’s Feeding the Need campaign is putting the spotlight on childhood hunger by bringing committed individuals together to inspire change. Tonight, we are kicking off our Feeding the Need hunger awareness week with two special guests. Billy Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, and Abby Leibman, president and CEO of Mazon, join us in “The War Room” to bring awareness to the hunger epidemic in the United States. Share Our Strength created the No Kid Hungry campaign, dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America by making it easier for low-income families to access food. Similarly, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger works to advocate and find solutions to hunger through partnership grant-making and a push for more food banks.
The No Kid Hungry campaign has a three-step program to end childhood hunger: access, education and awareness. First, it is working to connect children to successful nutrition programs, helping the kids to access school breakfast and summer meals. No Kid Hungry also aims to educate low-income families on how they can expand their food budgets to ensure their kids get the nutrition they need. Families can learn to shop strategically, understand nutrition labels and cook affordable meals.
Here are six facts you might not know about hunger in the United States:
16.1 million children in America live in poverty. A hungry child is more likely to develop short- and long-term health problems. These health issues lead to behavioral, emotional and educational difficulties.
62% of America’s teachers regularly see kids come to school hungry because they aren’t getting enough to eat at home. Breakfast means energy and focus. Without breakfast, it is very hard for kids to concentrate and get enough strength to begin the day. Not having dinner can mean a restless night and a tired kid in the morning.
16 million kids — that’s 1 out of 5 — struggle with hunger. It might be hard to spot a hungry child, but approximately 20 percent of American children live in a home with parents unable to put food on the table regularly.
25% of households with children living in large cities are food-insecure. Food insecurity is not knowing whether you can access adequate food to feed your family on a daily basis. Food insecurity occurs in 3.9 million American households with children.
6 out of 7 low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer. Even though kids are at a higher risk of hunger, only two federal summer programs offer meals from June through August. It is crucial that children who need help accessing food get benefits all year long.
18.5 million American children received SNAP benefits on average each month of 2010. SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, offers low-income families an opportunity to buy food every month. The federal program had an average monthly benefit in 2011 of $133.85 per person, or approximately $1.46 per meal.
There are many more shocking facts that put severity of this social problem into perspective. Anyone with a passion to feed the kids can help end childhood hunger today. To make a donation, hold a fundraiser or simply honor a child, visit Share Our Strength. And be sure to tune in to “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm” for our first night of “Feeding the Need” at 10E/7P on Current TV.