According to recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 13 million children in the United States live in food insecure homes, the long-term effects of which can have a detrimental effect on the bodies, minds, and behavior of children.
Kids living in food-insecure households tend to have a lower health-related quality of life and higher rates of asthma. They are more than twice as likely to test positive for iron deficiency anemia, which has been linked to difficulties with foundational skills like language comprehension and emotional development. According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, food insecure students are 127% more likely to have behavioral problems at school.
Most Americans are morally offended by the existence of child food insecurity, which is evidenced by our openness to lend our time, money, and tax dollars toward child-focused programs designed to address childhood food insecurity. Traditionally, these fixes have been largely aimed at feeding the child. However, the data makes it clear that when it comes to resolving the issue of child food insecurity, the solution has to address more than just the individual child – it must include the entire family.
“ You can’t have a food secure child if you don’t have a food secure household.”
Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan’s “Best Food Forward” initiative represents one of the answers to this solvable problem for the state of Michigan. The program takes a holistic approach to resolving child food insecurity by involving the entire ecosystem surrounding the child – including the Michigan Department of Education, schools, food banks, families, teachers, and administrators.
So what is Best Food Forward? It is a school-based initiative which is more than just mobile pantries or backpacks – it aims to bring households in a school district to full food security in three ways: better spending of existing resources, taking advantage of every available state program for kids and families, and then adding additional food, if needed, so that households are fully food secure.
Best Food Forward is an amazing opportunity to improve the way kids learn, engage, and eat at school. And, by making healthy food accessible to students and their families, we are revolutionizing the way schools and communities function.
Watch my Tableside Chat to learn more about Best Food Forward and our five-part plan for success!
Interested in learning more about Best Food Forward? Click here to listen to my conversation with Dr. Phillip Knight, Executive Director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan on the show ‘Food for Thought’ which airs Sunday nights at 8:00 PM on News/Talk 760 AM WJR.
For over 30 years, solving hunger and food insecurity has been my mission for our community. Interested in how this gets solved? Drop your questions below. I’m happy to shed some light! Just remember, include in your message, #AskGerry #fixitalready #nohungerhere