// by Cindy Ficorelli //
Help give hungry kids a voice.
Michigan is in the midst of a hunger crisis. In our state alone, 1,369, 250 people do not have enough to eat. Of these, 345,130 are children.
In Genesee County, 67,660 people are food-insecure; 17,820 are children, representing 16.5 percent of the county’s population. And it gets worse: 28 percent of Genesee County food-insecure residents are ineligible for federal nutrition programs.
“There is no excuse for children to go hungry,” says Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “But it happens every day in every community in Michigan. One in six children in our state will go to bed hungry; we rank among the top states in the country for food insecurity.”
“When someone is hungry, everything else comes second — health, education, work,” Dr. Knight continues. “We have plenty of food, and we have the methods to deliver it, so why is food insecurity a crisis in our country and in our own neighborhoods? If we can take the food problem off the table for parents, we can focus on solving their other challenges in life, such as a job or their family’s health or their kids’ education. Hunger has a cascading effect on the entire family.”
Hunger deprives our children of more than just food. Kids who don’t get enough to eat — especially during their first three years — begin life at a serious disadvantage. When they’re hungry, children are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health conditions like anemia and asthma. As they grow up, kids who don’t get enough to eat are more likely to struggle in school and other social situations.
Studies show food-insecure children are more likely to:
• Repeat a grade in elementary school
• Experience developmental impairments in language and motor skills
• Have more social and behavioral problems
According to a study published by Feeding America, a family of four facing hunger may need 36 additional meals a month simply because they don’t have money to buy enough food. In addition, 84 percent of food-insecure households buy the cheapest food — instead of healthy food — in order to provide enough to eat.
People in Michigan are estimated to need $652,838,000 more each year to meet their food needs. The cost of an average meal per person in Michigan is $2.79.
Here is the problem, Dr. Knight shares. Take a look at these numbers:
• Parents who make $11.50 an hour or more at a full-time job will lose their benefit of food stamps.
• Parents who make $13.50 an hour or more at a full-time job will lose their child care credit.
• Parents who make $14 an hour at a full-time job do not earn enough money to sustain self-sufficiency.
“Work is the biggest tool we have in our anti-hunger tool box,” Dr. Knight points out. “But parents make too much money to qualify for government-funded assistance, and too little to provide for their family. This is a crisis and we need to take action immediately.”
Knight says you can be part of the solution by contacting your representative and telling Congress to invest in children by passing legislation to increase food access.
“Urge legislators to re-evaluate policies, practices and legislation regarding the scalability of benefits in a working home,” he adds. “We must develop a collaborative and actionable plan to create food security in Michigan. Together, we can end hunger, but it’s going to require an active partnership between politics and people – government and the community.”
The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan needs your help!
You can donate non-perishable items at their main facility at 2300 Lapeer Rd. just past Howard Ave. The food bank is looking for canned and boxed goods that have an expiration date of no more than two years past. You can also make a financial donation or work as a volunteer. Call them at 810-239-4441 or check out their website for more information at www.fbem.org.