Food for Thought: Some Kids Still Hungry During the Holidays

Nov 28, 2018



An awareness of hunger especially comes to light every November, when families are preparing for or forced to merely dream about the year’s most bountiful feast. The tragic reality is that many Missourians struggle every day with hunger. Statistically, our state is among the top with hunger and nutrition problems. Every age, geographic region, socioeconomic status, and race is affected in our state. Fortunately, there are organizations that work hard to tackle hunger. Feeding Missouri is one and No Kid Hungry is another.

What is Food Insecurity?
Many of the references to hunger today are expressed with the relatively new phrase “food insecurity.” The wording was introduced in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The definition of food insecurity is: Lacking dependable access to a sufficient supply of nutritious, affordable food. There are ranges of food insecurity, just as there are two levels of food security, as described by the USDA. Under the heading of “Food Insecurity” are the categories “Low food security” and “Very low food security.” The first is that there are reports of reduced variety, desirability, and quality of diet with little to no sign of reduced food intake. The worst situation is very low food security, which indicates disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. “Food insecurity” may just be the politically correct word for “hunger.”

Missouri Hunger Facts and Statistics 
Feeding America provides a breakdown of food insecurity rates by state and county. Jackson County had a 2016 population of approximately 693,115 and a food insecurity rate of 17.2 percent, or approximately 117,270 affected individuals. This rate is higher than all but St. Louis city and the following counties in Missouri: Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Nodaway, and Pemiscot. According to No Kid Hungry Missouri, one in five children in the state struggles with hunger.

The following are Missouri hunger facts from Feeding Missouri:

  • In the nation, Missouri ranks 7th for Low Food Security
  • Missouri is 2nd in the U.S. for Very Low Food Security.
  • Households in our state that are food insecure are more likely to be malnourished, living on diets that are low in grains, vegetables, fruits, vitamins, meat, and minerals.


No Kid Hungry
No Kid Hungry is a campaign that aims to increase access to child nutrition programs, and former Governor Jay Nixon has been a strong advocate. The program works with stakeholders such as school districts to increase access to school breakfasts as well as after-school snacks and summer meals by implementing proven strategies.

Eating breakfast is essential, as statistics show a child is 20 percent more likely to graduate high school if he or she eats breakfast. In addition, that same child will attend 1.5 more days of school each year and will average 17.5 percent higher scores on math tests. Many children have missed out on free or reduced-price school breakfast because it is served before they arrive to their school. An example of change is that more and more Missouri schools are offering Second Chance Grab and Go breakfast to every student free of charge, between the second and third hours of the school day. More than half of all students have been participating. Breakfast is widely recognized as a “curve for success,” as Jessica Mackey, Midwest Dairy Council Registered Dietitian, said in a statement about the importance of No Kid Hungry.

Feed Missouri
Feed Missouri is an organization dedicated to purchasing over one million pounds of fresh produce to distribute to Missouri families in need. The produce will help low-income Missourians to achieve good nutrition. This is especially important for children, if they are to maintain good mental health, physical health, have academic success, and become productive members of society.

Anyone who wants to help with Feed Missouri is encouraged to financially support Produce Promise. Donated funds can acquire bulk quantities of produce at a reduced cost. As an example, $10 you may spend to buy food at a grocery store would buy 20 times more at wholesale cost. By giving to Feed Missouri, it’s like feeding an entire family for a week as opposed to providing one lunch for a few people.

How to Get Help
Feed Missouri operates out of six primary food banks throughout the state. Those food banks supply food for programs in every community. Of the six, the closest to Buckner is the Harvesters Community Food Network in Kansas City. Local food assistance locations include the following, according to the Harvesters Community Food Network website:

Buckner and Sibley

CSL- Buckner
1001 S Sibley St.  
Buckner, Mo. 64016
816.249.5820

Heart of God Fellowship
3720 N. Buckner Tarsney Road
Buckner, Mo. 64016
816.719.1118

Wellington and Napoleon

A. I. M. Food Pantry
710 W 224 Highway 
Wellington, Mo. 64097
816.934.1367

Lexington

Lexington United Methodist
1211 S. Business Highway 13 
Lexington, Mo. 64067
660.259.2102

Migrant Farm Workers
735 S. Highway 13 
Lexington, Mo. 64067
816.968.2227

Lexington Pantry*
914 Franklin Ave.
Lexington, Mo. 64067
660-259-2102/ 660-422-2986

Waverly

Shepherd's Food Pantry
903 W. Walnut St.
Waverly, Mo. 64096
660.493.2434

Higginsville and Concordia

First Assembly of God
1050 W. 19th St. 
Higginsville, Mo. 64037
660.584.2225

Concordia Baptist Church
406 W. 1st St.
Concordia, Mo. 64020
660.463.7292

No one in America should go hungry. The caring and benevolence extended to those who are most vulnerable to hunger is heartwarming every Thanksgiving season, and that’s a very good thing. Just some food for thought: It would be easier to wipe out hunger if awareness of food insecurity was heightened year-around.
 

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Tonia Wright

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