Many people might be confused with the difference between the terms “hunger” and “food insecurity”. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of hunger means the uneasy sensation caused by the lack of food, while the definition of food insecurity represents the unavailable access to the quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity impacts the economy in a negative way for children living in households because parents would not be able to have enough money to afford food or healthcare cost for their kids. The effects of this catastrophe include: bad academic performance, health complications, and symptoms of everyday sickness.
To start off, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “More than 13 million children in 2015 lived in a household characterized by food insecurity” (qtd. Schanzenbach). This number represents the amount of kids that are suffering without the necessities of food. One of the effects of food insecurity is that children won’t be able to have enough stamina for academics. Food represents the fuel that children need every day to increase their metabolism. Without that fuel, children will go hungry and not perform well on academic tests. In fact, under the subheading of “Importance” on ChildTrends, kids might display a tiny boost in reading and math amongst the grades kindergarten and third, and a possible outcome of the repetition of any grade level (ChildTrends). Some kids might encounter some emotional patterns while at school. For instance, Aungst mentions how “food insecure children may be at greater risk of truancy and school tardiness.” The lack of kids absent from school or tardiness may cause a buildup of missing assignments and crucial grades.
To continue forward, food insecurity can affect children’s overall health. A child’s health is crucial to a family because if the child has complications, parents might have to spend a whole amount of money in order to take care of the child. Aungst listed some examples of health issues among children. Some of the health issues include: “oral health problems, anemia and asthma, obesity, requirements of hospitalization, and poor physical quality of life” (Aungst). These conditions can make or break a child’s health and can also cause the parents to have mixed emotions.
In addition to the overall health of a child, many children that have to deal with insecurity may encounter some symptoms of everyday sickness; some of which includes: stomach aches, frequent headaches, and colds (ChildTrends). Children that are food secure don’t have to encounter the symptoms of everyday sickness.
Henceforth, families with 3 or more children represent the common cause of food insecurity (“Food Insecurity in the United States”). Families with less than 3 kids are fine since they are food secure. The larger the family, the more insecure the household would be. With nationality, families that are black or Hispanic with kids represent the highest common range of food insecurity out of all nationalities (ChildTrends). Some nationalities, for example whites, can handle their kids with food since they are secure.
Even though blacks and Hispanics have to suffer from food insecurity, the reason why the nationalities were the highest is because of unemployment or disabilities among parents. It is important for everyone to work in order to have money to pay for necessities. Unfortunately, parents, who are unemployed or disabled, have a definite increase for food insecurity since they don’t have money. In fact, according to Coleman-Jensen, “If an adult in the household is unable to work due to disability, both the incidence rate and the severity rate of food insecurity among children are more than double those rates among households with children without a disabled adult” (qtd. Kirkendall 17-18).
Furthermore, there are some long term and short-term effects that impact the economy from food insecurity. For instance, the short-term effect from food insecurity is that kids may have a possible chance of encountering hospitalization, and the mean cost of pediatric treatment is around $12,000 (Cook and Jeng). The long term effect is that many parents may need to help their children conquer undernutrition by paying a huge amount of healthcare costs throughout life (Cook and Jeng).
The overall experience while volunteering at MUST Ministries was interesting because that supervisor told the service learning students more information about the children that have to deal with food insecurity. The service students were able to make sack lunches for the kids that need lunch for the summer. The parents rely on the school to feed their kids lunch with different programs. For example, parents sign an application under “Free and Reduced Lunch” in order for the kids to have lunch for a very low cost instead of parents wasting a whole lot of money for their kids to eat lunch. Now, since school is out for the summer, parents are struggling to provide meals for their children. Since I volunteered with MUST Ministries, I felt that I was able to help provide lunches for kids in order to fulfill their stomachs with nutritious food.
In conclusion, food insecurity causes negative impacts among children. The only solution for food insecurity to not exist in the future is to have food programs for families and children. There are food programs that exist in the United States today; some of them include: Food Stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, etc. These programs will help children in the need of food in order to have food security in the future. Without these programs, food insecurity will continue to exist in children and families in the future.
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