• By Julie Stefanski
  • In March
  • March 1, 2017

The Economic Burden of Childhood Hunger

By Clancy Harrison MS, RDN, FAND

Everyone desires a nation with prosperous jobs, economic growth, and safe environments. But how do we ensure our children grow up in a nation full of opportunity? There are many ways to improve the economy of the United States. However, a prosperous nation cannot occur until we demolish childhood hunger, a handicap our nation has enabled over the years.

Imagine the last time you experienced hunger pains. Did you become frustrated and irritable? Now imagine you do not have food to cure those feelings and negative emotions. Thinking back to elementary math class, bring the hunger pains with you. Bombarded with the feeling of hunger, debilitating emotions, and a foggy mental state, can you concentrate on a simple math problem?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 13.1 million children do not have access to nourishing foods necessary for a quality education. Many of these children go to school with feelings of hunger and often have behavior problems linked to mental health issues such as hyperactivity. Food is a basic need along with oxygen and water for survival. Nourishing food is vital for establishing a child’s health, academic achievement, and their economic contribution to society. If a child is chronically hungry in school, they are more likely to do substandard work.

The ability to concentrate in school starts with The National School Breakfast Program. We know a child’s readiness for kindergarten is built on the experiences and development in the first 3 years of life. Just like the success of first grade is built on the experiences of kindergarten. The foundation for a quality education is set in early life and continues to build upward into adulthood. If the foundation is weak, our nation’s economy is profoundly impacted.

Mending our Nation’s childhood hunger crisis by investing in existing food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps), Women Infant Children Program (WIC) and the School Feeding Programs is the foundation to a prosperous nation. For National School Breakfast Week (March 6-10, 2017), I urge you to learn more about the program and become an advocate for school breakfast in your local school district. Our children and nation depend on all of us to be the voice in the fight against childhood hunger.

Clancy Cash Harrison MS, RDN, FAND is a Pediatric Dietitian, Author of Feeding Baby, TEDx Speaker, and Food Justice Advocate. You can find more information at www.ClancyHarrison.com. Follow her on Facebook: Clancy Harrison; Twitter: ClancyCHarrison

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