Seeing Child Hunger Firsthand

November 9, 2011

The Child Hunger Corps is a national service program designed to increase the capacity and capability of food banks to execute programs targeted towards the alleviation of child hunger. The objective of the program is to increase the number of nutritious snacks and meals served to children in need in local communities across the country. The Child Hunger Corps initiative is sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

In August 2011, the second cohort of 11 new Corps members were placed at Feeding America member food banks, bringing the current total to 17 Child Hunger Corps members working at food banks across the country. This post is by first cohort member Reginald Young, Child Hunger Corps member at the Houston Food Bank.

As a Child Hunger Corps member at the Houston Food Bank, I see child hunger firsthand every day. In the 18 counties served by the Houston Food Bank, more than one in four children are food insecure (26.1%). That means that more than 437,000 kids may not know where his or her next meal is coming from on a given day. I find that shocking, and that’s why the Houston Food Bank is taking such an active role in fighting child hunger. [If you’d like to see food insecurity rates or child food insecurity rates in your county, just visit Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap page.]

In Houston, we have a range of programs designed to get food to children in need. The Backpack Buddy Club provides food to children for weekends and school vacations. Kids Cafes serve meals and snacks to kids after school. Children also receive food safety lessons, nutrition education and hands-on instruction to help create healthy lifestyles. In the summer, the number of children served doubles as we convert Kids Cafes to the Summer Food Service Program. We get 184,000 meals to children through the Kids Cafes alone.

It takes a lot of work, partnerships and support to reach as many children as we do in the Houston area. As a member of the Feeding America network, we have access to information about programs taking place nationwide, such as the BackPack Program and Kids Cafes. Nationally, the BackPack program can be found at more than 150 food banks and reaches more than 230,000 kids each year. About 120 food banks operate Kids Café programs, reaching 122,000 children each year. Based on the numbers provided by Map the Meal Gap, we still have a lot of work to do, but that’s what we in the Child Hunger Corps are focused on in our local communities.

On Thursday, November 10, from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Eastern (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Central), Feeding America, food banks and Child Hunger Corps members will participate in a Twitter chat as part of ConAgra Foods Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. Join us with your questions and comments about child hunger. For every Tweet with the hash tag #ChildHunger during those two hours, ConAgra Foods Foundation will donate $1.00 to Feeding America.

Posted by Dan Michel on November 9, 2011 at 3:33 PM in National Initiatives
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