Childhood hunger has very serious short and long term consequences. Research shows that children living in food-insecure and hungry homes are sick more often, have higher rates of iron-deficiency anemia and are hospitalized more frequently. They miss more days of school, are less able to learn even when they can attend school and are more likely to suffer from behavioral disorders. Malnourished infants suffer brain damage that cannot be reversed even by better nutrition later in life.
For seniors, hunger can lead to lowered immunity, mobility problems and mental confusion – all of which detract from an elder’s ability to live with the independence and dignity we all want for ourselves.
Being hungry means more than not having any food. Hunger has many causes: unemployment or underemployment; living on a fixed income; insufficient education to obtain a job that pays a living wage; lack of affordable housing and child care; inadequate or no affordable medical insurance. Many people struggle on the edge of poverty in our community even when they are working and economizing to support themselves and their families. Many of these people must resort to using emergency food assistance to make ends meet, either occasionally or regularly.
The best preventative health tool is an adequate amount of nutritious food. For people living in poverty, empty cupboards and bare refrigerators are a part of everyday life. This chronic lack of food, combined with a lack of nutrition education and the stress of living in poverty, has kept many of our neighbors in poor health. In Northern Texas many households that received food assistance have gone entire days without eating because there was not enough money to buy food. Many report having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or rent.