Summer can be an anxiety-provoking time for 16 million kids across the U.S. who are struggling with hunger at home. The end of every school year means lost access to free and reduced-price lunches that provide regular nutrition to growing bodies. For a child who does not receive regular, healthy meals at home, the summer months may feel extra long.
The result of summer hunger, especially over many years, can be devastating to children’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development. When kids are malnourished or don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they cannot focus, their academic performance may suffer and they are more likely to act out against peers and adults.
Myth about hunger: There are no hungry kids in our community.
Hunger exists in every community. Yet, it’s easily hidden. Nationally, one in six kids are hungry, but in many communities this number is higher. In fact, 78% of Americans agree hunger exists, but don’t think it impacts their community. Tarrant County is ranked in the top 10 nationally for the highest number of food insecure individuals and children. Open a new window and be on the lookout for these signs to help determine if children you know are struggling.
Common signs that a child may struggle with hunger:
- They ask about food every day and are not picky.
- They suddenly lose or gain weight.
- They hoard food and snacks.
- They are bullying or behaving badly.
- Their teeth are decaying.
On average, The Y Feeds Kids program serves 600 kids and over 15,000 meals/snacks per month. Together, we can work to end food insecurity issues in our community.