Now that schools have moved to remote learning for the rest of the academic year, the silent problem of food insecurity has become increasingly important to address. Children across the nation are unable to access proper daily meals, severely impeding their health and overall quality of life. Food security is a spectrum that can range from high to very low. Food insecurity affects families and is related to a household’s socioeconomic status. Hunger is a by-product of a family’s food insecurity and affects individuals. According to the USDA, as of 2016 there are at least 13 million children who live in food-insecure homes in the United States. Due to the pandemic, over 18 million children this year could be facing food insecurity. The majority of food-insecure homes are at or below the poverty line. These families must make tough decisions over whether to spend their money on meals or critical resources for their home. Even worse, children living in households facing food insecurity are most vulnerable to suffering long-term consequences. Children who are unable to maintain a healthy diet are more likely to fall behind in school, develop cognitive impairments, and face higher risks of developing health conditions.
One way children have been able to overcome food insecurity is through the free meals provided to them at school. Students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch worry about one less meal during the weekdays. But what about when school isn’t open? Children who depend on their school meals are left with a “weekend food gap” and face uncertainty about where their meals will come from.
The Baltimore Hunger Project serves to bridge the gap left on the weekends to the students who qualify for free or reduced meals. Children should not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Rather, they should be focused on developing as an individual and student in the classroom.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused another obstacle for childhood education. Students who do not have access to proper resources are unable to create proper learning environments at home. There are a multitude of factors that can affect a child’s academic growth, which includes their academic support (from parents or teachers), nutrition, and resource access. Students who are already falling behind learning checkpoints will only fall further behind as a result of remote learning. The education system must accommodate for the academic consequences of the pandemic. Children who lack proper resources are also the ones most at risk to face long-term consequences of the pandemic.
Guest Blogger: Celina Liu & Caroline Bates
June 17, 2020