The effects of food insecurity on children and youth are wide-ranging and long-lasting. While children in Hamilton don’t die of starvation, many go hungry and suffer negative developmental, educational and health outcomes that can impact them well into adulthood. September is Hunger Action Month and so we would like to take this opportunity to share with you some information about the impacts of childhood hunger on thousands of kids our communities.
1. Over 1,500 kids in Hamilton go hungry every weekend.
During the school week, community meal programs help get many kids get through the week. But these programs can only compensate for families’ food insecurity from Monday to Friday. Kids might be able to get through the school day without the distraction of a grumbling stomach but when the weekend comes, so does hunger.
2. Hunger and poverty are a vicious cycle.
According to the American Psychological Association, children who are hungry are more likely to perform poorly in school and to require extra educational supports than their well-nourished peers. Poor performance in school puts kids at an educational disadvantage which often translates into limited employment opportunities. Since food insecurity is strongly associated with poverty, childhood hunger feeds into the cycle of poverty.
3. Hunger impacts mood.
Hunger can have significant impacts on children’s mental health. Hungry kids are more likely to be anxious, irritable and aggressive than those who are well-fed. It is little surprise then, that psychologists advise that one of the first questions you should ask an angry, aggressive or anxious child or teen be: have you eaten today? Alarmingly, research even suggests that childhood hunger can be a strong predictor for depression in teens and young adults.
4. Hunger is bad for your health.
You probably know that being hungry isn’t particularly healthy. But even occasional childhood food insecurity can have permanent physical and developmental impacts. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the University of Calgary studied the effects of hunger on general health. According to Time, their research found that, “children who went hungry at least once in their lives were 2½ times more likely to have poor overall health 10 to 15 years later, compared with those who never had to go without food.”
5. Children are major food bank users.
Food bank usage in Canada has been rising steadily for the past decade. In 2016, food bank usage was up 28% from just eight years earlier. Sadly, children are overrepresented in the population of food bank users. Though people under the age of 18 make up only 22% of the Canadian population, they account for 36% of the population assisted by food banks
Bonus! CityKidz is making a difference and YOU can too!
Early on, we realized that many of our kids were going hungry. So we started providing them with snacks and a warm meal during our Saturday sessions. And still, every week, kids ask us with worry in their eyes: when are we going to eat?
We know that, too often, the meal these children get at our programming is the only one they’ll have that day. So we strive to make it count. We offer them healthy meals like chicken wraps and nutritious snacks like yogurt and apples that they can eat while sharing time with their friends.
We are constantly striving to offer our kids more, but good food is expensive.
That’s where you come in! You can help us make sure that any hungry child asking for some more food gets it. Your donation will go towards supporting our mission to reach every child in need with inspirational programming and the nutritional energy they need to fully experience it.