When most Americans think of childhood hunger, they think of the international food-scarcity crisis. What most Americans do not realize is that hunger is an epidemic happening right here, nationwide. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 13.1 million children under the age of 18, live in households without consistent access to enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. The realities of food insecurity are due to many factors, and the result is 1 in 5 children in the U.S. going to bed hungry every night.
Now, taking an even closer look at hunger, here in Lancaster County alone, 59,000 people go hungry each year. In our own community, 11% of the population is food insecure, 18% of that population being children under the age of 18. Annually, food insecure families miss 7 million meals due to a lack of resources to food. For children, the cost of a missed meal has an effect on not only their health, but their opportunities for education and activity. According to The Center on Hunger and Poverty, hungry children have a hard time learning in school, have short attention spans and, suffer more absence due to illness. The vital role that nutrition plays in the ability of children to learn in school is central to the mission of eliminating childhood hunger.
At the Power Packs Project, we recognize the hunger crisis that is happening in our own backyard. We have made it our mission to improve the mental and physical health of the children in the program. By providing our students parents with nutritious meals over weekends when the school breakfast and lunch programs are unavailable to them, we are working to make sure meals no longer go missed.
To provide one meal to one person in a food insecure family in Lancaster County, it only costs $3. Next time you are out to eat, consider what $3 could buy a food insecure-family. The fight to eliminate hunger nationwide, and here in Lancaster County, begins with education and awareness. Get involved with the effort by visiting Power Packs Project online.