This is a very straight forward, no hold barred article. I have not sugar coated anything. The words are plain and simple and often blunt. The reason, this is a very important issue. One that we as a society tend to overlook when it comes to the children of our country. America is a wonderful place and we are the first to be there to save the day if people or children are in strife anywhere in the world. However, we sometimes forget to look in our backyard. I hope that this piece motivates you and your family to take action, and help save the life of a child that your child probably knows.
In our world today it is not uncommon to see chubby and overweight children everywhere you go. Childhood obesity has become a problem, especially in the United States, but its often unthought-of of opposite, childhood starvation, is still a grievous and devastating problem for millions of children all over the world. For every over weight child we see, we must remember that there are probably hundreds of children going to bed without dinner because there was simply not enough money for food that night.
Where are children starving?
Starvation is not prejudice and affects children everywhere. Although, children living in more poverty stricken areas or countries will more frequently feel the effects of hunger. In our world today, nearly 16,000 children die every day because of starvation, which is essentially one child every five seconds. So count to five and somewhere a child is now dead, by the time you reach 60 a dozen children will have died from hunger. These children are dying because some of their most basic needs are not being met. Either the family is too poor or they are suffering as a result of maltreatment. 2006 saw the deaths of 9.7 million children before their fifth birthday. Nearly all the deaths occurred in developing countries, especially sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. According to a report done in 2007 by The U.S. Department of Agriculture 36.2 million people were part of households that did not have enough food; 12.4 million of those people were children. In 2007, in the United States, the ten states that rank the highest in malnutrition were Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Maine, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. So, no matter where you live, chances are there is a hungry child nearby. It is true that hunger and starvation are often seen among children and families with little or no income, whether they live in the Americas, Europe, Asia or Africa. It can be easy to shut your eyes to this problem, especially when you have happy healthy children of your own, but for just a moment think of how the other parent may feel. They too love and care for their child but for some reason they are not able to give them enough food. They may feel ashamed and embarrassed as yet another day passes with little food. The pain and sadness they feel is probably equally to the hunger pains their child feels every time a meal is skipped.
What are the effects of Malnutrition?
This may seem like an obvious question, but often times malnutrition has effects that are not noticed right away or will only be seen further down the road. We all know how it feels when we miss one or two meals during a busy day or because of a doctor's appointment. For children suffering from malnutrition these symptoms are just the beginning. Malnutrition brings with it a whole host of preventable problems like: fatigue, dizziness, poor growth, bleeding gums, low immunity, lowered ability to concentrate, scaly or dry skin, weak bones and much more. For severely malnourished children these symptoms will often create other problems in their lives. For instance if they have a weak immune system, they are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. Also if they are having trouble concentrating, they will perform poorly in school (if they attend) and will experience difficulty when it comes to learning new things. Being malnourished also means that a child is not receiving all the nutrients and vitamins they need. For instance, a severe lack of vitamin A can lead to blindness and iodine deficiency can cause to mental retardation. Ultimately the worst effect of malnutrition is death. Our bodies can function for a while on a limited diet and even no food. Humans come programmed to survive, but the children who are suffering from hunger are living in constant state of survival not because of some calamity but because there is not enough food on the table. Living on little food can eventually rob a person of hope and happiness and no child should have to wonder if they will get to eat today, but sadly millions are oppressed with this worry day after day.
How can you help a hungry Child?
If you are a parent with an average income or at least an income close to being average, you know how to tend to your child's hunger needs. You can open the fridge, freezer, or cupboard and retrieve a snack or dinner. For millions of families, getting food for their children or themselves is not that easy. Many parents enter the store with strict guide lines on what they can and cannot buy with food stamps, other are taking what they can from food banks. The truly unlucky parents may have to wait in line at a refugee camp for their ration of rice for the day, some may be begging for help on a corner while other scour through the trash trying to find something eatable. There are many thing you can do every day to help a starving child and you can start right in your own community. Whenever there is a canned food drive, contribute several cans, and not just the expired ones in your cupboard. Most cities have some sort of food bank that takes regular donations and operates special programs during the holidays. When you plan your thanksgiving dinner set aside some money to help a family in your area celebrate on their own with a donated food basket. In addition to local efforts, there are hundreds of different charitable organizations that allow you to sponsor a child or family, providing everything from food and clothing to job training and education. Often the amount is not too burdensome and may mean that you just don't go out to eat as often or indulge in as many special treats.
Here is a great list of Anti Hunger and Poverty Organizations: http://www.bread.org/learn/links.html
Even though most of us don't see the effects of hunger, it is a deadly and depressing problem that is especially harmful to children. Everyone has heard the saying that the children are our future, well how are we to ensure a brighter future when so many children are dying from hunger every day? Childhood hunger is not a problem without a solution, but it is a big problem that can only be solved through the efforts of everyone working together.
Youtube Hunger Awareness Videos:
Meet an incredible woman who has devoted her life to ending hunger in America. Here is how one person Rachael is making a difference:
One Person, One Child at a time, together we can all make a difference and End Hunger