Thirty communities in western Massachusetts have hunger rates that are six times higher than the statewide average.
Childhood hunger in the Summer season. (This article appears in the forthcoming Summer 2012 Issue of Word of Mouth).
If you were asked to associate a particular season with hunger, which would you choose? If donation trends are any indication, you and many others might feel compelled to answer: “Winter.”
It’s true that winter is a very difficult time for many, but food-insecure households experience hardships in other seasons that are felt just as harshly as cold weather.
For millions of families with children across the country, summer can be the most difficult season for meeting nutritional needs. This fact surprises many, but it’s an unfortunate reality for over 17 million food insecure children across the United States, and almost one in every four kids right here in Western Massachusetts.
Proper nutrition is vital to the healthy growth and development of children; countless studies show that hunger can have lasting effects on a child’s cognitive, behavioral, physical, and emotional development.
During the summer months, childhood food insecurity is intensified. Throughout the school year, 21 million children nationwide from low-income and food-insecure families have access to free and reduced-price school meals. For these children, affordable access to meals and snacks through school is crucial to addressing needs that aren’t always met at home. Without access to school meals, households with already burdened budgets need to replace them when school lets out for summer. This can mean the difference, and cost, of two to even three meals a day.
In the case of the nearly 40,000 food insecure children in Western Massachusetts, summertime can mean higher levels of hunger. More families with children turn to their local Food Bank member agencies, especially those with summer meal programs, to help fill this gap. As a result, these assistance sites can face an increased strain on resources during the summer as they try their best to meet demand.
Hunger knows no season. With your continued support, we are able provide more than 7.5 million pounds of food a year to over 135,000 of our neighbors seeking food assistance. Help us fight hunger, every day of the year.Comments Off
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