Children’s Hunger Alliance has been working to help food insecure children for over 50 years and while our work has always been important, never more so than over these last few years. Simply put, our mission is to make sure that children who don’t have enough food to live a healthy life have access to nutritious meals. In Ohio, over 400,000 children live in food insecure homes – a number that was over 700,000 at the height of the pandemic. For many children living in poverty, they wake up with no breakfast, they come home from school to no dinner, and go to bed hungry.
We all understand that having enough food has an impact on children’s health, but they also may experience a stigma related to food insecurity which can lead to emotional health concerns. Food insecure children are especially at-risk for hunger when school closes on the weekend, for holiday breaks, and during summer recess.
This year CHA faced challenges with the summer meal program because of uncertainty surrounding the expiration of the USDA waivers. As part of the COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation, federal requirements that meals be served in group settings was waived, along with allowing more flexibility in how meals were distributed. While the USDA did not allow these waivers to expire, the decision to extend them was approved in late June after summer meal programs had already begun. Thankfully, CHA was able to secure funding through both public and private sources to assist with summer meals. This ensured that meals could be donated to sites that didn’t qualify through the USDA program, making sure those locations still had the meals they needed to reach Ohio’s food insecure children. Summer nutrition programs serve as a bridge to fill the meal gap that so many children face each summer, making it critical that these programs can operate without interruptions.
CHA is working hard to decrease the barriers to support all of our meal programs by advocating about the importance of these programs and finding other funding sources. This is why we need the financial support of our donors to help CHA provide food to more children. It takes all of us Working together to FEED OHIO’S KIDS.