Childhood Hunger is a major problem in the United States. 17 million children are food insecure, which simply means that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. One out of every four American children goes to bed hungry each night.
Despite our awareness that hunger exists, most of us mistakenly believe it isn’t our problem because we’re not personally impacted by it. However, this is shortsighted because as a society, our well-being is linked together and we’re only as strong as our weakest link. The unattended needs of a child become society’s burden to bear, since they cannot care for themselves and we can’t unlink our future from theirs. Childhood hunger has a ripple effect in society.
Let’s look at the impact of hunger on child’s biggest responsibility –education. Hunger’s impact on the brain and body are fairly well understood: A hungry child is one who struggles to excel cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically in our educational system. The effects of hunger work against the very thing they’re there to do –learn.
Cognitively, the impact of starvation is a decline in concentration, alertness, comprehension, judgment, and intellectual capacity. Emotionally, starvation is associated with depression, anxiety, irritability, self-harm, and impulse control issues. Socially, hungry causes social withdrawal and isolation. Physically, a hungry child experiences lethargy, headaches, muscle weakness, dizziness, sleepiness, cold intolerance, and possible sensorimotor issues. When the body’s threat system is turned on by stress, the very parts of the brain that are required for learning literally can’t be turned on. Learning is tough enough without these additional hurdles.
Now imagine what happens in the classroom with this hungry child. There is an impact upon the other student, the teacher, recess, and the testing results –which impact the government’s funding of the school. Then multiply that across multiple classrooms and 12 years of education. Does this child graduate and what does the future hold for this young adult? Further, what impact does this have on the community at large?
As a nation we are only as strong as the sum of our people. Whether we like it or not, this problem is our problem to solve, because we’re all in this together. Only together we are powerful enough to solve a problem of this magnitude.
It wouldn’t take much either, just a slight change in habits, building of a new mental muscle. TangoTab is an app that donates a meal to a hungry child locally every time you check in at a participating restaurant –and it is free to use! If checking in while doing something you would usually do anyway could end childhood hunger once and for all, would you do it? This is my reason.
Children are our future. Their well-being will ultimately be our well-being. I hope you will join me in being a powerful voice against hunger in society.
Author: Debra Campbell
Debra Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Dallas TX. Ms. Campbell is the President of the Dallas Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and is a member of the American Psychological Association, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Association for Applied Sport Psychology, the Dallas Psychological Association.