Food insecurity is the lack of reliable access to necessary amounts of affordable, nutritious food, and is often a result of poverty. When individuals are food insecure, they don’t get all of the food and nutrients they need every day to live an active, healthy life, which can lead to other issues like health problems.
In 2020, around 10% of the U.S. population was food insecure at one point during the year, which includes 6 million children. While food insecurity is a major concern for everyone, it is especially detrimental to children.
Here are some of the devastating effects food insecurity can have on children:
- Health Problems - Health problems are perhaps the most common—and most devastating—effects caused by food insecurity in children. Not having reliable access to food can lead to irregular growth and development in children, which can lead to irreversible health issues for the rest of their lives.
Not receiving proper nutrition can also increase the risk of developing various diseases, contracting illnesses, and can lead to injuries due to weak muscles and bones. Without reliable, healthy food, children’s immune systems aren’t able to fight off illnesses normally and their bodies aren’t able to heal properly. Food insecurity can even lead to diseases like childhood obesity, since children do not have access to nutritional foods and rely on cheaper, less nutritious food.
- Academic Struggles - Food insecurity can also impact how students perform in school, with many studies showing a positive connection between regular meals and academic achievement. Our brains need food to think, concentrate, and process information, so when a child does not get the nutrition they need, it can negatively impact their academic performance.
- Social Impact - Another negative effect of food insecurity can be on children’s social lives. When suffering from food insecurity, children may not be able to play with friends, take part in sports, join clubs, or enjoy other activities because their family’s money needs to go toward food. Children may also be suffering from some of the previously mentioned health problems and be unable to take part in activities with their peers.
- Mental Health - Food insecurity can also have negative effects on children’s mental health, as many children are aware of the issue, which causes them stress and anxiety. If food insecurity is common in a household, the continued stress of living through it can lead to developmental problems and mental health issues for children.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Delta aim to serve the children in our communities, especially those dealing with food insecurity. Each of our clubs provides kids with a safe place to play, learn, exercise, and receive nutritious foods. This holiday season, consider supporting us as we help children suffering from food insecurity by donating to our cause today!