Food Banks and Teen Hunger
Food banks like us are here to help alleviate hunger in our community and we work hard to help pull citizens out of food insecurity every day.
Imagine, however, that you are fifteen years old and - facing hunger yourself - have to feed your siblings, but the stigma of going to a food bank stops you from reaching out to groups like us for help. Instead, you go home, feed your family with what food you have, and face the very serious side effects of childhood and adolescent hunger, such as depression, asthma or anemia.
This exact scene plays itself out too many times in the United States every day, despite every effort from food banks and other organizations to combat teen food insecurity. Teens throughout the United States facing the option of a food bank or alternative, more dangerous methods of getting food will often choose the latter. Changing the dialogue is part of making food banks a viable option for teens. Understanding this stigma and its causes are key to providing households in need with the resources they need to get through each day.
The National Picture
Overall, American food insecurity is on the decline. While this is clearly a fantastic overall trend, it is vital to see the story behind the statistics and recognize that a 12.7 percent food insecurity rate in 2015 households means that over 1 in 8 families are still going hungry. As a country, we are only halfway back to pre-recession levels of food insecurity.
With a declining rate of food insecurity, now is the best possible time to take note of impacted populations and work to bring that number to zero. The USDA reported in 2015 that households with children faced the highest rates of both food insecurity and very low food security. This is especially true in rural communities.
How Can You Help?
At Second Harvest Foodbank of Wisconsin, we strive to be available and accessible to children in any community we can help. Our HungerCare Coalition is on a mission to educate healthcare professionals about the seeing the signs of hunger and informing children and families about the ease and availability of food assistance programs. If you want to see how you can help, please contact Megan Vander Wyst, Programs Manager at (608) 216-7238
Additionally, through our Kids Cafe program, we provide at-risk children with free meals and snacks at community locations where children already congregate during after-school hours. You can help by donating food, funds or time. You can also host a food/fund drive in your community!
For more on some of our recent community efforts to battle food insecurity, check out our most recent newsletter.