Childhood Hunger = Bags of Hope
Arizona is the SECOND poorest state in the nation (2011)
In Texas, 22% of children under 18 are food insecure, the HIGHEST rate in the country. (the Baptist Standard NewsJournal)
Food and clothing are ranked among the highest needs of the impoverished.
20.2% of AZ children under 18 don’t get enough to eat.
Thousands of children receive reduced price breakfast and lunch at school but often go hungry on weekends. These children are from families that live more than 185% below the poverty level, thus qualifying for food assistance through federally funded programs in schools. Frankly, when school ends, so do their meals!
The Causes: What causes this hunger?
Parents are under-employed or cannot get work due to the economy.
Parent has an illness or disability that limits consistent employment.
Parent is employed, but has to work while children are home on weekends. Children are too young to cook for themselves.
Children are being raised by grandparents that are on a fixed income.
The chains of addiction bind a parent’s ability to provide.
Bags of Hope are backpacks that include individually portioned, shelf-stable meals and snacks for in-home weekend consumption. Bags of Hope are distributed at school on Friday afternoon, so children receive food and nutrition outside of school. Each Bag contains 50 grams of protein and 20 grams of fiber, needs no refrigeration, is easily transported home and provides consistent nourishment to a child in need.
Recent test scores at a partner school showed increased student performance after the Bags of Hope program was instituted. 3rd Grade KOS Kids scored 12% higher in reading and 26% higher in math! (Kitchen on the Street 2012)
Family Hunger = Fresh Food and Emergency Food
1,476,750 Arizonians live below the poverty level.
21.2% of Arizona residents are impoverished.
1 in 4 Arizona children struggles with food insecurity.
The 2010 Census reports that 1,476,750 Arizonians live below the poverty level, struggling to get by. It generally takes only one major life event to move a family into poverty, when families find themselves there they are regularly forced to choose between necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Oftentimes food falls to the bottom of the list and more often than not, the money runs out before food is purchased.
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, but often times these foods are out of the reach of families struggling economically. The cost of fresh produce is too high for most low income families, and oftentimes availability via local markets is limited or non-existence, especially to those that lack transportation. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), juvenile diabetes or type 1 diabetes in American children and adolescents is on the increase. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) states that over 13,000 American children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year! Roughly one child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each and every hour. And type 1 diabetes is the leading cause of diabetes in children. The studies show that when children have a diet rich in nutrients from vegetables and get to exercise regularly it has a direct effect on their health and is a tremendous way to circumvent and help prevent a disease like diabetes.
Partnerships with local growers, community gardens and food banks allow Kitchen on the Street to distribute FREE fresh food to families in need via Produce Distributions. Collaborations with schools, churches and community centers allow for regular events wherein low income families receive FREE fresh produce high in nutrients and vitamins.
The generosity of volunteers and community partners in providing non-perishable food donations allows Kitchen on the Street to distribute emergency food boxes to families in crises. While Kitchen on the Street cannot meet the entire food needs of the community, utilizing the donations given allows impoverished families a hand up in very discouraging circumstances.
Less hungry Americans!
Less illness for the impoverished! Most low income families are 1 major life event away from financial poverty. Eliminating illness that can result in financial obligations will allow struggling families to flourish and live healthy lives. Healthy, productive people build healthy, productive communities where children can grow, learn and be all they were created to be.