Edit ModuleShow Tags

Children Are Better Off Fed

Children Are Better Off Fed | Food and Nutrition Magazine | Stone Soup Blog

Jill Castle, MS, RDNThis featured post is by Jill Castle, MS, RDN. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

It's that time again when child nutrition programs are up for reauthorization on Capitol Hill. There will be many who support our existing programs, such as WIC, SNAP, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the National School Lunch Program, and there will be many who will want to trim these programs, remodel them or somehow save money through financial cutbacks.

Regardless of your camp or your position, I want you to consider a few things:

One in Five Households Are Food Insecure

What that really means is that the kids living in these households are hungry — almost 16 million of them, according to Feeding America. Their parents don't have enough money to feed them on a consistent, predictable basis so they can grow, develop and thrive.

Children Are Our Future

The National School Lunch Program originally was established, in part, to ensure our youngest citizens were nourished so our nation would have a pool of healthy warriors should we need them in a time of war. War has changed over the years, and we now rely on a blend of manpower and machinery to engage in battle. However, we still need educated, forward-thinking, resourceful men and women to wage our future battles, sustain and grow our country, and steer our nation into the future. The children we raise and nourish today are key to our national strength and success tomorrow.

Hungry Kids Are at an Academic Disadvantage

Several studies have documented the negative effects of food insecurity and hunger on the academic performance of children. Namely, lower math scores, a likelihood of repeating a grade, tardiness and missing school altogether. The good news is that studies also show that kids who eat school lunch have better overall nutritional intake and those who eat breakfast improve their math grades, along with their overall academic performance. School meals are integral to closing the educational gaps created by poverty, food insecurity and hunger.

Nutritional Deficits Strike Early

Malnutrition is a real concern for children who are food insecure, presenting its own challenges for the growing child. Early nutritional deficits can impair the growth and development of the brain and may cause lifelong problems with learning and academic potential. Many nutrients are essential for normal growth and development, and those nutrients come from adequate amounts and a variety of food. SNAP and the National School Lunch Program are just two programs that help children get the nutrients they need.

Poverty Doesn't Cure Itself

Success stories of disadvantaged children picking themselves up and out of poverty aren't commonplace. When we do hear them, they often are marked by great struggle and perseverance and a lot of assistance along the way. The assistance provided by child nutrition programs is vital to helping kids succeed despite poverty.

Circumstances Happen

Life happens. People fall on hard times, experience dwindling resources or are simply born into a situation where resources are limited. This reality knows no demographic: a United States veteran, a college mom, a divorced parent, a retiree, a young child. You can see real faces of hunger on StoryCorps, such as this one about a young veteran mother striving to educate herself and feed her child.

I believe children are better off fed. When we feed children, we feed their bodies and their brains. We help them grow to their potential. We help children learn. We break the cycle of hunger. We help families get back on their feet. We prevent malnutrition and, perhaps, we even strike out a bleak future.

A child who is fed is a child who has a chance.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN, is a pediatric nutrition dietitian, consultant, speaker and author of Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School. Read her blog, Just the Right Byte and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Edit Module
blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stone Soup

Celebrating the Lessons of Julia Child

Celebrating the Lessons of Julia Child

This past Friday marked the birthday of the wonderful Julia Child — here are five important tips we learned from her.
What It's Like to Be a Registered Dietitian in Sin City

What It's Like to Be a Registered Dietitian in Sin City

I've been living in Las Vegas for almost three years now, and what a whirlwind it has been! Adopting the "Vegas lifestyle" has been exciting, exhausting...and expensive. As a dietitian, my main focus is with our health and wellness. Here are seven tips for living in the Vegas Valley with vitality and vibrancy.
Vitamin D Food Sources for Winter Months

Vitamin D Food Sources for Winter Months

Be aware that, without natural exposure to sunlight on bare skin, vitamin D deficiency is a real issue.
‏Go‪-‬to Herbs‪:‬ Basil‪,‬ Cilantro and Thyme

‏Go‪-‬to Herbs‪:‬ Basil‪,‬ Cilantro and Thyme

‏While they may be ordinary, these herbs become extraordinary when you grow and use them throughout the season.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Advertise with Food & Nutrition
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Stone Soup

Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.

About This Blog

Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Content — including information, recipes and views expressed — is that of the authors and does not reflect the positions or policies of Food & Nutrition Magazine or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bloggers are required to pledge they will not write for Stone Soup on topics, companies or trade organization they currently represent or have represented at any time.

Learn about our guest blogs!

Comments Policy

Food & Nutrition Magazine provides this forum to exchange ideas, opinions and contributions within a positive community. Diverse viewpoints and constructive, respectful dialogue are welcome. Rudeness, misinformation, self-promotion and abuse are not. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate this policy or our Terms & Conditions. You must include your name or be logged into a personal account on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to comment.


Edit Module

Get Stone Soup in Your RSS

Use your RSS reader's instructions to add Stone Soup to your list:

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Stone Soup Feed »

Get Our Blogs in Your Email

Stone Soup
Student Scoop