It’s getting late in the afternoon and you have an uneasy or painful sensation in your stomach caused by hunger. Most of us have withstood that sensation for an hour or two but imagine if there was no food in the house to alleviate your hunger. For many in our Loudoun community, this unfortunately is not an uncommon occurrence.
Loudoun County has a child food insecurity rate of one in 10 children. Over 9200 children cannot count on their next meal. 28 percent of these kids qualify for US govt. free/reduced price school lunch programs (ie.1 meal /day). Another 72 percent are assisted by charitable organizations like churches and food banks. These numbers are startling and troubling.
Food insecurity occurs because of factors such as poverty, race, medical issues, job insecurity, and housing costs. Loudoun incomes below $ 42,600 (for a four-person family) place a family at risk for hunger. (16,900 people in Loudoun County qualify for assistance).
Most of us or our children know someone benefiting from the Feeding America SNAP Program (food stamps), WIC (Woman, Infant, and Children Nutrition) or utilize the School Backpack food program. Hungry children have headaches, fatigue, anemia, and reduced attention and memory loss. These factors can lead to poor school performance and later, to low income jobs. Adults risk depression, lack energy, face obesity, and possible high risk pregnancies.
How Can We Help?
- Awareness in the Community- Food connects people with others. Know and contribute to Food Banks like Interfaith Relief, 7 Loaves, and Community Outreach through churches.
- Educate your kids about hunger (www.Feeding America.org) and create understanding.
- Encourage schools to teach Nutrition including balanced meals and hunger awareness to students.
- Participate in Soup Kitchens, packing food baskets, and Hunger/Poverty Awareness Campaigns.
Leadership Loudoun’s focus group on Youth Hunger and Healthy Eating is sponsoring a Teen Guide & Cookbook for Eating Healthy. Until March 7 (extended from the original deadline of February 28) they will be collecting recipes that are easy, balanced for nutrition, with interchangeable ingredients that may be available in most homes. All submitted recipes will be judged for taste, ease of use, cost effectiveness, and balanced nutrition by prominent chefs from Loudoun restaurants. This contest is open to all middle and high school aged children in Loudoun County including home-schooled students. Send your recipes to LLYouthHunger@gmail.com
Prizes of $25 to $100 food gift certificates from local grocery stores will be awarded for winning entries, plus recipes will be published and internet available to all kids in our schools and nationwide. Be sure to include your source for recipes if from a cookbook, website, or contributor.
Our community depends on everyone participating to help other people in need. Loudoun County should set the standard of caring for less fortunate people so that we can be a model for our nation.