Disturbing Hunger Trends Haunt County

I was recently saddened to learn that the number of Henderson county students who qualify for the schools’ free and reduced meals program grew from 55% in the 2013-2014 school year to 59% in the current, 2014-2015, school year! This equates to 7,965 children! Good nutrition is essential to a child’s proper physical growth, health and development. Children who experience chronic, unsatisfied hunger will not get the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to reach developmental milestones. The result is, children who are malnourished and vulnerable to childhood diseases and often have low immunity and poor overall health. Lack of proper nutrition and adequate food can also lead to the development of mental health problems, academic achievement and future economic productivity for a child. One in four children in Henderson County is living in poverty. Poverty guidelines vary by household size, but in 2013, families with three people lived in poverty if their income was $19,530 or below. Families in poverty struggle to cover basic needs including food. Perhaps, in recent years, you’ve heard terms like “food insecurity.” When a family or person is “food insecure,” the availability and quality of food to which they have access is not adequate for an active, healthy life. National data shows that in 2012, more than one in seven US households (18 million) experienced food insecurity at some time during the year. All these households experienced limited or uncertain access to adequate food, including reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. About 7 million of these households had members who went hungry or skipped meals, an indication of very low food security. In...