Opinion: It is unacceptable that there are hungry children in Austin | Opinión: Es inaceptable que haya niños con hambre en Austin
August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
This opinion piece appeared in Ahora Si on August 12, 2010. Read the article in spanish.
by David Davenport, President & CEO
Although Austin often makes numerous top 10 lists of places to live and work, I was reminded earlier this week that for many of our citizens, that top 10 lifestyle is still out of reach. Unbelievably, in 2010, here in the most prosperous nation in the world, families and children still go hungry. In fact, more than forty percent of people served by the organization I lead, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, are children.
I recently visited one of our community partners, a Boys and Girls Club in South Austin, who participate in our Summer Family Nutrition Program (SFNP). The Summer Family Nutrition Program provides free family food boxes to families with children who would otherwise go hungry. The program’s goal is to alleviate hunger and obesity in children in low-income families when National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program meals are not available, particularly in the summer. This program ensures children have the nutrition they need so they are ready to learn when school starts in the fall, and families have the resources and nutrition education they need to provide their children with healthy, nutritious food. Why is this so important?
- Children cannot concentrate on their studies when they are hungry.
- Hunger affects a child’s ability to learn.
- Hungry children tend to be sick, prone to absenteeism in school, and often exhibit emotional problems.
While we will always be here to feed the hungry, we cannot neglect to also focus on the root causes of why children in this country are hungry, and what can be done to solve the problems that cause hunger in the first place.
I know this is not a good time to mention it given the current economy, but there is never a good time: lack of living wages, industry, jobs, education, and more, all contribute to the situation we are in today, and we must all work together to fix these items on a larger scale, and eradicate the need for programs like SFNP. I can never build a food bank big enough to feed the hungry, we estimate there are 114,000 families in Central Texas alone eligible for SFNP, what we need to focus on is reducing the amount of families and children standing in the hunger line.
There is a moral imperative that asks all of us to ensure that innocent children should not be hungry and can eat healthy. We all win when a child succeeds in school, so are there really any good excuses why Texas cannot find the solutions to make sure we are not setting children up for failure by not giving them access to the foods they need to be productive and healthy members of society? Hunger is an expensive, preventable social problem and we Texans can do something about it.
If you need help or would like more information about how the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas is working to eliminate hunger, please visit http://www.austinfoodbank.org or call the Family Food Box hotline at 512-684-2511.
David Davenport is the President & CEO, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas