Nutritious meals are the building blocks of a child’s healthy growth and development; they provide the foundation for a bright future. Unfortunately, too many children miss out on the vital nutrients they need when their families struggle to put food on the table. In fact, in the United States 15 million children are food-insecure, meaning they do not always have the food they need to live an active, healthy life.

Affecting health and wealth

Proper nutrition supports a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, which can help them achieve greater academic and future workplace success. Research shows that children who do not get enough to eat are at greater risk of experiencing a number of acute and chronic health problems, including obesity, asthma, anemia, oral health problems, depression, anxiety and hyperactivity compared to children who are food-secure.

"Since food is one of the most flexible items in a household budget, it is often the first to be given up."

The difficult choices their parents and caregivers are forced to make about where to spend their limited resources affect a child’s food security. Many families facing hunger have to choose between buying food and paying for other basic necessities, such as housing, transportation and medical care. Since food is one of the most flexible items in a household budget, it is often the first to be given up.

Having healthy choices

Food-insecure families are also often priced out of being able to afford the fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and dairy items that are needed for healthy living at all stages of life. Among food-insecure households with children, an overwhelming majority of parents stretch their meager budgets by purchasing less expensive foods, even if they know the items are less healthy choices.

These are trade-offs that no one should have to make—especially when our children’s health and future are at stake. Thanks to food banks and meal programs across the country, children and their families have access to nutritious food and supplemental meals that enable parents to feed their children the healthy food they need for a chance at a brighter future.

But more must be done. Through partnerships between the non-profit, government and private sectors, and individuals like you, we can ensure that all children have the right building blocks and the fuel they need to reach their fullest potential. Together, we can solve child hunger.