Childhood Hunger is a community issue with far-reaching implications. Kids who grow up with the threat of hunger are more likely to underperform in school, to exhibit behavioral issues, and will miss more days of school than their peers. Kids who are growing up in food insecure homes are at higher risk of a number of health-related issues that range from obesity and diabetes to depression and anxiety. Faced with so many challenges, these kids are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school, which forever impacts their ability to earn a living wage, thus perpetuating the cycle of hunger in our community.
The causal issues of hunger in our community are many. Those who visit Missoula Food Bank to access food list unemployment and underemployment, high housing and utility costs, and medical expenses as some of the top reasons that most influenced their trip to the food bank. More is that results from a recent barriers survey conducted by Missoula Food Bank show that there are people in Missoula experiencing hunger who are not using our local resources for help.
We can work together to make a difference for Missoula kids living in food insecurity. At Missoula Food Bank, we are taking a multi-step approach to address local childhood hunger. Our current efforts include:
1) Providing help to children in Missoula in need of emergency food assistance by offering healthy food and snack choices through our Store Program.
2) Providing summertime lunches, snacks and weekend food backpacks for kids who would otherwise be eating breakfast and lunch at school. We deliver these services through our Kids Table Program and in partnership with area programs that serve low-income kids.
3) Advocating for our child clients by providing educational materials and resources about the importance of eating nutritious food, developing healthy eating habits and living an active lifestyle.
4) Advocating for our children by refering client families to additional local resources in the areas of education, employment, health care, childcare, and other areas which impact the economic stability of a household. Referals also include other resources for nutrition like school breakfast and lunch programs, as well as WIC and SNAP.
5) Creating a community dialogue about local childhood hunger, and working within our community to provide innovative solutions so that adequate nutrition is not a barrier to the success of our kids.
6) Exploring local partnerships to build momentum and capacity for initiates that will help to end childhood hunger in our community.
Ways you can help:
...Organize a fresh foods drive to help keep healthy choices available at our local food bank ... Advocacte for school breakfast and lunch programs ... Volunteer for a local organization that supports low-income kids ... Join our email list or follow our Childhood Hunger Facebook page for updated information and calls to action ...