What can you do about food insecurity?
Summers are one of the most difficult times for food insecure populations, as school lunch programs shut down for summer break. Read on to find out how you can support your neighbors in need!
We like to think of the summers of childhood as a time of carefree relaxation. However, for children accessing free and reduced meals at school, summer can be a stressful time of hunger. In fact, 42.2 million Americans live in households that struggle to eat three meals a day year-round. In the 2016 Washington Healthy Youth Survey (HYS), about 11% of 8th grade students, 12% of 10th grade students and 16% of 12th grade students reported that their family had reduced or skipped meals in the last 12 months because there was not enough money to buy food.
Washington State ranks 10th in the country in overall wealth – and ranks 34th in food insecurity. In Washington State, 1 in 6 kids live in a household that faces challenges in putting enough food on the table. To combat this, many schools offer free and reduced meal programs throughout the school year. However, Washington state ranks 40th out of the 50 states for availability of summer food programs. In Washington only 11% of children who receive free and reduced cost meals during the school year are accessing free summer meal programs.
Hunger persists at disproportionately higher rates for Black and Hispanic households and in households with children that are headed by single women or single men. Regardless of family structure, 16.6% of all households in Washington State with children experience food insecurity. Health effects of hunger and food insecurity in children are associated with more psychosocial problems; more frequent colds, ear infections, anemia, asthma, and headaches; impaired cognitive functions; and poorer academic achievement.
To combat food insecurity in communities, food banks must receive support and participation from local community members to ensure consistent nutritious food is supplied to those in need. Summers are notoriously slower months for food bank donations, despite being a time of increased need. Therefore, Experience Momentum is partnering with other area gyms and CrossFit boxes to support Nourishing Network by collecting non-perishable items for food insecure kids in the Edmonds School District.
Experience Momentum’s food drive is running July 1 – July 7. Please bring easy to open, single serving items with no heat or minimal heating required and help feed hungry kids in your area.
If your family or someone you know would benefit from access to free summer meals, visit parenthelp.org for a link to the Washington State Summer Food Service Program, which provides free meals and snacks to children and teens 18 years and under during the summer months: https://resources.parenthelp123.org/services/summer-meals.
Additionally, the Seattle Public Library is offering free lunches and snacks for those 18 and under at several Puget Sound locations throughout the summer: https://www.king5.com/article/news/seattle-public-library-hosting-free-lunch-this-summer-for-children-under-18/281-54ec7f97-cf3d-4347-88a8-8f35f56c724b.