Effective Strategies to Alleviate Childhood Hunger Described in New Report

A new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Sodexo Foundation takes an in-depth look at efforts to curb childhood huger that could potentially be scaled up and used in cities across the country.  The publication, “Strategies to Combat Childhood Hunger in Four US Cities,”(pdf) looked at initiatives in Boston, New Haven, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Overall, the report identified that successful city-wide anti-hunger efforts comprise seven components:

  • Teaching healthy behaviors at school
  • Offering summer food programs for school children
  • Creating public/private/non-profit partnerships, including policy councils, to coordinate city-wide efforts
  • Increasing access to healthy and affordable food, and encouraging involvement through local garden and farm programs
  • Supporting local food banks
  • Implementing assistance programs for School Breakfast, After School Snack, and Summer Food Service Programs
  • Adopting and advocating anti-hunger legislation and policies

According to the report, “Boston’s case study illustrates the power of leadership in bringing public and private agencies into a collaborative and holistic approach to combating childhood hunger, and the roles played by these agencies. . . . Underlying Boston’s effort are the many years of leadership in anti-hunger programming provided by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the coordinating role of the Food Policy Council which he has established.” Urban agriculture, participation in federal food programs, and increased nutritional value in food served in Boston Public Schools have all played a role in diminishing child hunger in Boston.

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Study Shows School Lunch Programs May Help Break Poverty Cycle

A new study published online in the journal Pediatrics found that food insecurity is associated with poor academic achievement in adolescents. However, when these adolescents received school-based food supplementation programs (like free and reduced-price lunch), they performed the same as their peers who were not living in food-insecure households. The authors write that their results suggest that “school food assistant or some aspect of it may well help adolescents thrive during the secondary school years and may be a part of a successful poverty-reduction strategy.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.7% of households were food insecure at least some time during 2009–the highest recorded  rate of food insecurity since 1995 when the first national food security survey was conducted.

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