Written by: Caroline Hissong, We Don’t Waste, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
More than half of the households in Colorado with children are struggling to find regular access to nutritious food.
Addressing food insecurity is a key part of our mission––but what makes summer hunger unique? Food insecurity is a state in which people lack reliable access to affordable and nutritious food. The summer season adds an additional set of challenges, as about 22 million children in the U.S. rely on food assistance programs providing free or low-cost lunches, breakfasts, and after-school snacks at their schools. With school shutdowns due to COVID many children in Colorado have already had less access to support programs and have had to endure more hunger during the school year than in previous years.
When school is out for the summer, the National Summer Food Service Program reaches less than 1 in 10 children in Colorado in need. Challenges with transportation and/or having to travel an excessive distance to a food program site leaves the majority of these children without that lifeline. Families, very suddenly, have to come up with a plan to provide additional meals every day for each child in the household.
While many people are feeling a sense of relief due to the accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine, the economic fallout of the past year is still devastating to much of Colorado’s population. Currently, more than 1 in 3 Coloradans currently considered food insecure. In order to feed their children over summer, the average family sees their grocery bill increase by $300 each month. This often leads to difficult decisions in which two-thirds of all low-income families have to choose between paying for utilities, medical care, or food.
And for children, in particular, hunger isn’t just about a full belly; there are major health implications that come from malnutrition which can affect them the rest of their lives. For children this can mean more long-term health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, iron deficiency, and more.
Hunger and malnutrition contribute to reduced attendance and participation in school, as well as the “slideback” of education in the summer. Food insecurity also directly affects children’s learning capacity, as well as their chances of graduating high school. By feeding our children during the summer they’re more likely to succeed during the school year and find security as an adult.
While food insecurity is a problem for millions of families over summer, the issue has worsened in 2021. For many children in Colorado their health and happiness is on the line this summer.
Our Mobile Food Markets provide FREE, healthy food to Colorado kids and their families, supporting them during the extra challenges of the summer. Thanks to the work of our volunteers and our generous donors we are able to put millions of servings of fresh food on plates that would have otherwise been empty.
Your donations are doubled for the month of May thanks to our active donation matching campaign. Please consider supporting We Don’t Waste in our mission to fight summer hunger.