We interrupt our regularly scheduled Pretty Talk programming today because I need to tell you about another labor of love project hitting newsstands now. It’s one of those stories I haven’t been able to get out of my head and I hope you won’t either. Because right here in the United States:
- 1 in 4 children lives in a household that has trouble getting enough to eat.
- 50 million Americans are considered “food insecure.”
- Those numbers have climbed 40 percent since 2007.
- Once a child becomes malnourished, she needs 50 percent more quality nutrition than a typical child does to regain her health.
These numbers are shocking and unacceptable — especially because the solutions are within our reach. I explore the story behind these statistics, and meet families struggling to get dinner on the table, in “The Hungry House,” out now in the July 2011 issue of Parents Magazine, and online at parents.com/hunger. One mom, Tangela Fedrick, also shared her story in a moving video, which I hope you’ll watch and share.
And here’s the good news: There’s a lot you can do to help — and now’s the time to do it. Everyone thinks about helping the needy around Thanksgiving, but summer is actually the hardest time to be a food insecure family, because kids don’t have access to school lunches and breakfasts. Plus, President Obama has pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015. “If all the mothers in this country rose up and said we want all of our children to have healthy diets, this problem would be fixed in a few years,” Deborah Frank, MD, founder of Children’s HealthWatch told me when I interviewed her for this story.
What you can do:
- Donate — but only what you’d want to feed your own kids. Food banks are frequently overwhelmed with supplies they can’t use. Ask what’s needed — canned produce, infant foods, diapers and supermarket gift cards often top the list.
- Every time you donate a canned good, write a letter to go with it, telling your senators and representatives that you want to see an end to childhood hunger. Push your Congresspeople to support an expansion of food stamp benefits in the Farm Bill, which will be rewritten in 2012.
- Support organizations on the front lines. Children’s HealthWatch, Witnesses to Hunger, Feeding America and Wholesome Wave are all doing critical work on these issues and they need your help.