Hunger Is a Problem That Cannot Be Ignored (by Sergio, Brooke, Kelsey, and Megan)

Portland-Tribune-0000349685406248.8 million Americans, including 16.2 million children, live in households that lack the means to get nutritious food on a regular basis. To help put this number into perspective, one in five kids in America doesn’t get the food they need every day. The latest survey by USDA revealed that nearly half of a million Oregonians were food insecure. Food insecurity takes a toll on both health and development, negatively affecting children’s ability to build healthy minds and bodies, therefore threatening their futures in profound ways.

Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1% of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households.

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Federal nutrition programs play a critical role in helping children who suffer from food insecurity maintain the nutrition needed to build healthy minds and bodies. The National School Lunch Program provides free and reduced price meals to low-income children. In the fiscal year 2013, federal school nutrition programs provided more than five billion lunches to nearly 31 million students. Unfortunately six out of seven low-income kids who receive a free or reduced lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer when school is not in session. This means that only one in seven kids who ate a free lunch during the school year also participated in summer meal programs; the other six out of the seven kids often go hungry.

We teamed up with Summer Food Oregon, part of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, to help distribute lunches to children who do not have access adequate food during the months. The Summer Food Service Program, created in 1968, helps close the gap between the end and start of the academic school year. This community program does not require an application nor proof of income and is open to all children between the ages of 1-18. Adults are welcome to attend, although the meal service is just for the kids.  Meals are hosted at a variety of locations including, but not limited to, schools, parks, churches, and community centers. There are over 600 hundred meal sites in Oregon.

Many parents do not know about this program and Summer Food Oregon can always use the help of volunteers spreading the word with their premade flyers, volunteering at a site, or sponsoring.

For more information and ways to get involved:

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