When most people think about hunger, they think of a starving child in a third-world country. Or perhaps they think of a long line of homeless people waiting outside an inner-city soup kitchen.
The truth is: hunger is a HUGE problem everywhere in the United States, but it’s not always easy to see. In a country known for its wealth and prosperity, 50 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.
The face of hunger has changed. No longer is it just the homeless man on the street reaching out for a helping hand, but every day millions of people are struggling to feed their families. No one is a stranger to the economic hardships of today.
They are all around us! Hunger is not limited to a single demographic or geographic region of the country. It is not a problem only affecting the homeless or the poorest of the poor. Hunger is everywhere, and the numbers are staggering.
As the economy continues to put a strain on our wallets, people are being forced to make extremely difficult decisions. What does hunger look like, you might ask?
- It is your father-in-law who just got laid off and now struggles to pay his mortgage and put food on the table.
- It is your elderly neighbor who must choose between buying groceries and heating her home.
- It is your child’s classmate who goes to school each day without lunch and is too embarrassed to ask for help.
Adults who suffer from hunger live shorter, less healthy, and less happy lives. They are more likely to be obese, more prone to mental illness, and more susceptible to deadly diseases. Hunger is terrible for adults, but it’s so much worse for children.
Hunger and malnourishment go hand-in-hand, and kids who miss out on essential nutrients during their critical years of growth will be dramatically disadvantaged for the remainder of their lives. 1 in 5 American children go to bed hungry each night.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, hungry children have compromised immune systems and are two to four times as likely as nourished children to develop health problems—ranging from the relatively minor to potentially fatal. Childhood hunger also impairs cognitive development. Kids who don’t have enough to eat do worse academically, do worse socially, and risk becoming so impacted—even by only temporary food insecurity—that recovery becomes impossible.
Most people tend to think about hunger during the holiday season. We see a ton of food drives occur right around Thanksgiving. But what happens during the rest of the year? Food insecurity is a year-round issue affecting millions of families and individuals across the country.
The summer months are the most difficult time for our nation’s food banks. During the school year, hungry children get the majority of their daily calories from free or reduced price school lunches. When school is out of session, those calories must come from somewhere else. There are summer meal programs, but 17 million children face a greater risk of hunger during the summer because those programs are difficult to access and underfunded.
Thankfully, the summer is also the busiest season for the moving industry, so Move For Hunger has a great opportunity to fill the shelves of our communities’ food banks. Move For Hunger works to rescue food from people’s homes that would otherwise be thrown away and get it to local food banks where it’s needed.