Recently, I was shocked to learn that almost 17 million children in the US are food insecure – meaning that essentially, they don’t know where their next meal will come from.
This startling information was in the recently released USDA report on food security which painted a bleak picture: more than one in every seven US households is struggling to put food on the table. Even more disturbing: the report reflects last year’s data, and many are speculating that, given the growth in unemployment (and underemployment), these numbers may have increased over the past 11 months.
At the same time, the Senate Committee has begun discussing the Child Nutrition Programs (currently set to be reauthorized in Sept. 2010) and held the first hearing this week. These programs provide a vital opportunity to make healthy, nutritious meals available to millions of children in schools across the country.
I found it gratifying to see that several committee members made a point of recognizing the importance of both increasing accessibility to school food (so that more children can receive these meals) while also supplying children with more nutritious food.As we’ve discussed again and again on this blog, hunger and poor nutrition walk hand in hand and typically impact the same vulnerable populations. The reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act provides a chance to address these interrelated issues.
And, just as importantly, kids who receive healthy meals learn more. President Obama recognized this when commenting on the USDA report. He said:
"Our children's ability to grow, learn, and meet their full potential - and therefore our future competitiveness as a nation - depends on regular access to healthy meals."To learn more about Child Nutrition Reauthorization, click here.