24 Oct 2011
For our Cooking Challenges Recipe Contest, we are donating a financial contribution on behalf of each month’s winner to national non-profit Share our Strength. We recently chatted with Judy Walker, the Western Regional Director of SOS about childhood hunger in the U.S. and what SOS is doing to help end it. Read on for more about their work and ways you can get involved.
Q: Please tell us about Share Our Strength.
A: Share Our Strength® is a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. It’s not enough to make sure America’s children have enough to eat; we must make sure they are getting the nutrition they need to live healthy, active lives.
That is why Share Our Strength’s highest priority is to make sure that every child in America gets the nutritious food he or she needs to learn, grow and thrive. We are doing this by improving the access that families all across the country have to healthy, affordable food and by working at the state and city level. This is our No Kid Hungry strategy, and it has four key components that, together, provide children with the nutritious food they need where they live, learn and play:
- Creating public-private partnerships at the state and city level to map out comprehensive, measurable plans to end child hunger in those areas.
- Building public awareness about the problem of childhood hunger and solutions to end it.
- Investing in communities with grants to organizations whose work improves access to nutritious foods or that educate families about such programs.
- Educating children and families about nutritious, affordable eating.
Q: Tell us about the work Share our Strength is doing in the San Francisco Bay Area today to end childhood hunger and how people can get involved.
A: Share Our Strength has provided millions of dollars in capacity building grants across California, including local organizations such as Food Runners and Children of Shelters and state-based organizations like California Food Policy Advocates and California Association of Food BanksWe know the need is great in San Francisco and across the state. California has the eleventh highest child food insecurity rate. 27.3% of children under 18 years of age are food insecure and 22% of children in California live below the poverty line. It’s likely that these children will endure lifelong health, educational,and economic consequences as a result of having limited access to nutritious foods. According to our recent survey, 65% of teachers reported having students in their classroom coming to school hungry, yet fewer than half of the kids who are eligible get a free school breakfast.
Q: What does hunger look like among children in America today?
A: Nearly one in five children in America can’t count on having enough to eat. More than 16 million children in America are at risk of hunger. That’s more than 1 in 5.
- 15.7 million children in America live in poverty.
- 18.6 million children benefit from SNAP (food stamps).
- Over 20 million children get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day.
- Only 10.5 million children get a free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day.
- 6 out of 7 children do not get the free summer meals they are eligible for.
Q: What can each person reading this do to help reverse that number?
A: Volunteer, Host a dinner, take the No Kid Hungry Pledge at www.nokidhungry.org, be an advocate with local government.
Q: I would think that hunger doesn’t always show itself easily. What are some things to look for?
A: Bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow and thrive. They can’t focus and you will find there are discipline problems in school.
Q: How does cooking factor into the hunger situation in the U.S. right now?
A: When families practice good cooking skills—how to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy, tasty, and affordable foods at home—they are winning the fight against childhood hunger and protecting themselves from the destructive consequences of poor child nutrition.
Judy is the Western Regional Director for Share Our Strength and though she covers most of the West, she is based in sunny Southern CA. Before joining Sharing Our Strength, Judy was the Executive Director of the Education Foundation for the CA Restaurant Association where she worked with culinary and hospitality students as well as industry leaders. Judy holds a master of arts in Organizational Leadership and when she’s not out fighting childhood hunger you can find her playing fetch with two very active Jack Russell Terriers, Valentino and Bently.