The issue of childhood hunger continues to worsen in our state, and in particular, Toledo. Between 2010 and 2011, Toledo’s child poverty rate increased from 35.8% to 43.7%1. Toledo ranks 28th out of the nation’s top 100 cities for food insecurity2. Children who are under-nourished are far more likely to develop health and behavioral problems, miss school more frequently, and fall behind academically.
Children’s Hunger Alliance is an agency started over 40 years ago, with offices in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton, and Toledo. The agency’s mission is to ensure that children in Ohio receive nutritious meals on a regular basis and develop lifelong healthy eating habits. This mission is primarily accomplished by feeding children nutritious meals in afterschool programs and child-care homes. Additionally, we help increase access to nutritious foods in schools and summer food program locations.
Under its Afterschool Meal Program, Children’s Hunger Alliance provides hot meals to children enrolled in afterschool programs throughout the state. During the 2012-13 school year, the agency partnered with more than 200 afterschool programs, serving more than 554,000 meals in Ohio. In Toledo, this past year, we partnered with 33 afterschool programs, and delivered about 65,000 meals.
One example, to help increase access to nutritious meals last year, was our work with Toledo Public Schools in providing breakfast each day to more than 3,000 additional students in the district on average. Research data indicates that children who begin their school day with a nutritious meal are more capable of learning. Some of the schools have also indicated that they have seen fewer behavioral incidents and visits to the nurse’s office.
Because of the cooperative efforts of our community partners, we have been able to fight childhood hunger. We need help from all sectors of the community to continue in this work. To learn more about Children’s Hunger Alliance and how to help end childhood hunger in Ohio, please visit www.childrenshungeralliance.org.
1 American Community Survey, 2012