Girl Planting seeds

Hunger Awareness In Our Communities

hungrykidsThere was a bumper sticker that became popular years back. It read "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." The sentiment- that our country has focused time, energy, and money to causes other than obvious ones here at home- resonates this time of year as many organizations observe hunger awareness days and gear up their fundraising and donation efforts. 


A local food bank in Paso Robles, California will observe Hunger Awareness Day on June 1. City Harvest in New York City is encouraging communities to hold food drives until June 17. The Mid-Ohio Food Bank runs an event called Operation Feed through June which hopes to raise 7.5 million meals for those in need.


All of these events demonstrate the great need that lies in towns across the U.S. It is unfathomable to me that there are still hungry families in this country, and yet the numbers don't lie. Of the most vulnerable are young children.


The USDA cites in 2010 there were over 16 million children living in food insecure households. Food security is the availability of food and one's ability to access it. A home is considered food insecure if its occupants lack access or means to meet their basic nutritional needs.


Hunger is tied to poverty. The US Census Bureau reports that In 2012, 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty, the largest number since these rates were first reported 52 years ago. 2010 was the fourth year in a row poverty rates increased.


According to the 2010 Hunger in America study, 20.6 million children from low-income households accessed free or reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program. Only 2.3 million of those children accessed the Summer Food Service Program, though local food pantries did report an increase in children accessing their services in the summer.


Hunger is not just about discomfort. Children who do not take in proper amounts of nutritious meals may suffer from slower growth and inhibited brain development in comparison with their peers. These children are also more prone to common illness, which can lead to absence from school. Some reports even say children who suffer from lack of nourishment display more aggressive, hyperactive, and disruptive behaviors than their peers. The physical, academic, social, and emotional consequences of hunger are great and can unfortunately be seen in the millions of young children affected.


Summer is fast-approaching and so are days of rumbling bellies in little ones. Luckily, there are many active organization dedicated to helping families find ways to adequately nourish themselves. One prominent organization is Feeding America.


Feeding America, a nation-wide hunger relief charity, promotes and supports food banks across the country and accepts monetary donations year-round. Through their website you can locate and donate to your local food bank, explore corporate opportunities for your employer to give back, or search full-time job opportunities with the program.


I was pleased when I pulled up to get my morning tea at my local Dunkin' Donuts and saw that the popular chain has partnered with Feeding America and is now accepting donations. Patrons can add $1.00 to the cost of their morning cup of joe and help fight hunger in America.


One United States Representative, James "Jim" Moran (D, Virginia) is also aiming to further highlight the need for action. He introduced a bill in May of this year in hopes of designating June 7, 2012 as National Hunger Awareness Day. In the resolution, he calls on Americans to take action in their communities on this designated day by volunteering in local food banks, emergency shelters, and other hunger relief charities. The bill was referred to a congressional committee on May 10 where it will be considered.


Our children are hungry. We need to address their hunger not just because it is the morally conscious thing to do but because our nation depends on it. Studies have shown- and teachers like myself will tell you- children cannot learn unless their basic needs are met. A hungry child is a less-educated one and we must ensure our children have everything they need to succeed.


I urge everyone to donate their time or money to fighting hunger in our country not just this June but throughout the year. Donating a meal or volunteering to work at a food pantry shows we as a nation care about each other and will not let our neighbors go to bed hungry.


cerbasiJennifer Cerbasi works as a special education teacher at a public school in New Jersey. As owner of The Learning Link, LLC, she also works with parents in the home to support children's academic, social, emotional, and physical health through a variety of services. Jennifer utilizes her training in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in both settings to foster children's development. Jennifer writes articles about current topics in education for the Fox News website. For more information, go to



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