Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

182 posts categorized "Maternal and Child Nutrition"

Women Can Help 'Feed the Future' and Much More

Marthasudan
Martha Akol is a former refugee who returned to her home several years ago in South Sudan. She is one of Africa's millions of women farmers who works hard to feed her family. Stephen Hovick Padre/Bread for the World

By Beth Ann Saracco

Earlier this month, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge women's economic, political, and social achievements. Around the world, improvements in the lives of women and their families have resulted in fewer maternal deaths, more educational opportunities, and increased political participation. What does this teach us? When women are healthy, empowered, and able to pursue educational and employment opportunities, everybody benefits.  

This is the primary message of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger. In order to end extreme hunger and poverty by 2030, we need to achieve greater gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Unfortunately, in the U.S. and around the world, harmful cultural practices, national laws, and societal norms often leave women marginalized and unable to make decisions, especially ones that impact their own lives and those of their family and community.

The Hunger Report recommends that, in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power.

If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects.

Since its creation in 2010, Feed the Future has achieved impressive results in its 19 focus countries, helping more than seven million small farmers grow more food and providing nutritious food to more than 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.  

Feed the Future is helping to create countries that are more food-secure and eating more nutritious food. But this program could do more.

In order to ensure greater participation of women in Feed the Future programs and continue the initial progress, this initiative must be made a permanent program that continues beyond the Obama administration. While the program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, without official statutory authorization, Feed the Future may not have a future of its own. H.R. 1567, the Global Food Security Act, was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would permanently codify and authorize a comprehensive approach to global food security, and it would build upon the successes the U.S. government has already achieved through Feed the Future.

What can you do?

Contact your representative, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R.1567, the Global Food Security Act. Now is the time for policymakers to authorize a program that has a proven ability to address the complex problem of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

Beth Ann Saracco is the International Policy Analyst in Bread's government relations department.

Women's History Month: The Power of the Collective Voice

Bread-Meme-Women-SOTOMAYOR

By Jennifer Gonzalez

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Bread Blog, Institute Notes, and Bread for the World’s social media platforms are celebrating the ingenuity, fortitude, and spirit of women during the month of March.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor holds a distinctive place in our nation’s history as the first Hispanic appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also only the third woman to serve in the nation’s highest court.

Sotomayor has credited her mother as her “life inspiration.” It a reminder of how important it is for women to support each other, whether it’s our own mother, a co-worker, a college mentor, or a best friend.

The 2015 Hunger Report When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger notes that the power of women’s “collective voice” is essential to solving the world’s many social ills such as persistent poverty and hunger. For example, the report highlights the work of Bread for the World’s Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement, which is focused on the importance of nutrition for pregnant women and young children, especially during the 1,000-day window (from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday).

For more information on the integral role women play in ending hunger and poverty, make sure to read When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger and also visit Bread Blog.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

 

Growing Up Poor in Rural America

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By Robin Stephenson

Clark Fork, Idaho is an idyllic rural community nestled near the northern tip of the state. The town has a median income of just under $28,000 a year and a population of 530. In November, the school district said it could no longer afford to serve hot meals at Clark Fork Junior-Senior High School.

Chris Riggins, the town's mayor, is concerned about food-insecure students. "The hot lunch that they receive here at school, a lot of them, this is the only hot meal they get during the day," Riggins told a local news station. 

Roughly 35 percent of rural populations live in high poverty, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Rural areas are defined as having populations of fewer than 2,500 and not adjacent to a metro area. More than 25 percent of all rural children live in poverty – significantly higher than their urban counterparts.

16160848070_43f57f9ce4_kThe National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a nutrition intervention tool that provides food to children who need it – food that gives them the fuel to learn. But a growing number of rural schools are struggling to make the program work for them.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that the numbers don't add up for Clark Fork. The school averages about 100 enrolled students a year and nearly half qualify for the federal government free and reduced-lunch program (available to students in a family of four that earn roughly $44,000 annually). About 20 students opt into the program on a regular basis. The federal government reimburses the school $2.58 for reduced lunch and $2.98 for free lunches. The $70 in revenue, however, is not enough to cover the $395 a day it takes to run the program.

Volume helps cut costs in schools with larger student populations.

Community eligibility, a provision in the 2010 child nutrition reauthorization bill, has the potential to help many struggling schools. If over 40 percent of students qualify for free lunch, all students get free lunch for schools that opt in. By eliminating application and fees, the streamlined process eases the burden on schools and increases the total reimbursement. Unfortunately, for a small school like Clark Fork, the numbers are not in their favor: Only 30 percent of the student body qualifies for free lunch.

The obvious solution to child poverty is stable, living-wage employment for parents. In the absence of adequate work, safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the earned income tax credit, and child nutrition programs increasingly bridge the gap between income and cost of living. Nationally, the child poverty rate stands at 18 percent. Without government interventions the rate would be 33 percent, according to a recent analysis.

Kids deserve the chance to reach their potential no matter where they live. Anti-poverty programs like SNAP and school lunch, which keep hunger at bay, must be strengthened and protected for the sake of our children.

Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs from harmful budget and funding cuts. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Do You Share My Vision?

OL2015-Blog

By Rev. David Beckmann

Imagine a future in which children no longer go to bed hungry. I know it's possible. The progress we've made in alleviating hunger and poverty over Bread's 40 years - combined with my faith in Jesus Christ - convince me of this every day.

16348205135_584c230bcf_kIn the 1960s, severe malnutrition and starvation were serious problems in our country. Today, thanks to programs like SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), nutrition assistance for pregnant women, infants, and young children, and the school lunch program, these problems have decreased dramatically. In the next 15 years, we could end these problems for good.

This year, Congress has some big decisions to make on our child nutrition programs, which are up for reauthorization. Additionally, members of Congress are threatening major cuts to SNAP, and nearly half of SNAP recipients are children. Negotiations in Congress have already begun. Will you take two minutes to email or call (800/826-3688) your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators? Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Tell Congress to also protect SNAP and other anti-poverty programs.

Ending hunger starts with our children. It starts now. It starts with you. You can help end hunger by 2030 with an action as simple as an email or phone call. We need you to do your part. And we need Congress to do its part. Call (800/826-3688) or email your members of Congress today.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

 

Help Us Close the Hunger Gap

Child-hunger-gap

By Rev. David Beckmann

Every child is a gift created in the image of God. When we care for our children, we invest in our future and we honor God’s gift. This is the heart of this year’s Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children.

We are working to close the hunger gap for children in our richly blessed nation — but we need your support.

5367306766_3044fcba3c_bDid you know that of the low-income children who receive a school lunch, only a little over half also receive breakfast? And only one in seven receive meals during the summer months, when children are most at risk of hunger. This is unacceptable.

Help us close this hunger gap and provide our children with the meals they need to grow and learn with a special gift today. Your gift will help to:

  • provide resources on our Offering of Letters to individuals and congregations
  • underwrite workshops that generate letters to Congress
  • support our grassroots lobbying activities on child nutrition programs

For every $1 you give to support our advocacy, you are helping to secure thousands of dollars in breakfasts and lunches and other assistance for children struggling to get enough to eat.

Giving our children a healthy start in life — solid nutrition — pays off for years, benefits all of us, and honors God. Join us by giving what you can to support our efforts to feed our children and close the hunger gap.

Rev. David Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World.

Free Meals Don't Always Equal Poverty

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By Jennifer Gonzalez

Recently, The Washington Post ran a story with an eye-popping headline: “Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty.”

The article reports that for the first time in 50 years, 51 percent of students attending public school in the United States came from low-income families, according to a report by the Southern Education Foundation.

The Washington Post used as a “rough proxy for poverty" the fact that 51 percent of U.S. public school students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program.

The fallout from the story was swift. Many critics rightly argued that “living in poverty” doesn’t exactly correlate with the number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch. NPR, Mother Jones, and many other news outlets voiced concern over the inaccuracy of the headline and the story.

In fact, The New York Times made it clear in its own story about the foundation’s report that “children who are eligible for such lunches do not necessarily live in poverty.”

The U.S. Census Bureau defines “poverty” as a household of four people with an income of $24,000 a year. Free or reduced-price lunches are available to students from families of four that earn roughly $44,000 annually.

In other words, it’s more than likely that many students receiving free and reduced-price lunch live above the poverty line. Therefore, it’s hard to make the argument that a majority of students live in poverty based on the fact that they receive free and reduced-price lunch.

Incomeinfographic

To skew the numbers further, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows certain public school districts to offer totally free meals (both breakfast and lunch) to all its students even if they don’t qualify. The move is designed to help school districts reduce paperwork.

Any school district with 40 percent or more “identified students” can participate in the CEP. Identified students include those whose families receive SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits or other federal government assistance. It also includes students certified to receive free school meals because of their status as being in foster care, enrolled in Head Start, homeless, runaway, or migrant student.

So the potential for over counting the number of students living in “poverty” is significant.

It’s unfortunate that The Washington Post made the error, because the truth is bad enough. At Bread for the World, we know that more than 1 in 5 children (nearly 16 million) live in a family that struggles to put food on the table.

Bread’s 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children is focused on children getting the meals they need. Even brief periods of hunger and malnutrition put children’s health at risk and carry consequences that may last a lifetime. Bread took great care to include only the number of low-income students receiving free and reduced-price lunch rather than every student receiving such a meal when the Offering of Letters was created.

Bread plans to work hard this year to ensure that Congress reauthorizes the child nutrition bill, which is set to expire this fall. The bill funds five major programs:  National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

Will need your voice to make sure our nation’s children receive the meals they need to grow into healthy adults. Join us in our effort!

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

Child Nutrition Programs and the Committees Setting Policy

OL2015-Blog

By Robin Stephenson

There is an old saying: Laws are like sausages; it’s better not to see them made. But when it comes to crafting policy with the potential to feed more children, faithful advocates need to be in the kitchen and talking to the cooks – especially when 1 in 5 U.S. children lives at risk of hunger.

The kitchen, in this case, is the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Members of these two committees will create the first drafts of the laws that fund and set policy for our nation’s child nutrition programs – legislation that must be renewed every five years.  The 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children aims to ensure that children get the meals they need so they can learn, be healthy, and grow strong.

The legislation being considered this year sets the policy for programs that reduce hunger for children living in poverty – school lunch and breakfast programs, summer feeding programs, after-school and child care feeding programs, and The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  When Congress renewed the legislation in 2010, it improved nutrition standards and access for some programs but sadly took the funding from other anti-hunger programs – namely SNAP (formerly food stamps).

As Congress takes up the child nutrition programs again, Bread for the World is urging Congress to pass legislation that protects nutrition programs and gives more hungry children access to the meals they need to thrive. And from the onset, anti-hunger advocates need to make it clear that taking funding from other anti-hunger programs is simply unacceptable.

For some of our Bread members, we are going to need your voice early if you have a member of Congress on the House or Senate committees with jurisdiction over the child nutrition legislation.  

“Our faithful advocates have an opportunity to influence the framework that starts the conversation,” said Christine Melendez Ashley, Bread for the World’s expert on domestic nutrition.  She encourages advocates to write letters and set up local meetings with committee members. 

“If we are making sure that the conversation begins with prioritizing vulnerable children, the final legislation will help close the hunger gap," she said.

Your voice can be especially critical as the process of reauthorizing the child nutrition bill begins. Hearings could begin soon, and it's important we not only pay attention, but also drive the conversation that is deciding on the future for our nation's children. Look at the lists below, and if you see your state, make sure your member of Congress hears from you.

House Committee on Education and Workforce, led by chairman John Kline and ranking member Bobby Scott.

 State

 Member

 State

 Member

 Arizona-05

 Matt Salmon

 Michigan-07

 Tim Walberg

 Arizona-03

 Raul Grijalva

 Minnesota-02

 John Kline

 Alabama-01

 Bradley Byrne

 Nevada-03

 Joe Heck

 California-53

 Susan Davis

 New York-08

 Hakeem Jeffries

 California-11

 Mark DeSaulnier

 New York-21

 Elise Stefanik

 California-50

 Duncan Hunter

 North Carolina-12

 Alma Adams

 California-41

 Mark Takano

 North Carolina-05

 Virginia Fox

 Colorado-02

 Jared Polis

 Ohio-11

 Marcia Fudge

 Connecticut-02

 Joe Courtney

 Oklahoma-05

 Steve Russell

 Florida-26

 Carlos Curbelo

 Oregon-01

 Suzanne Bonamici

 Florida-24

 Frederica Wilson

 Pennsylvania-11

 Lou Barletta

 Georgia-12

 Rick Allen

 Pennsylvania-05

 Glenn Thompson

 Georgia-01

 Buddy Carter

 South Carolina-01

 Joe Wilson

 Indiana-06

 Luke Messer

 Tennessee-01

 Phil Roe

 Indiana-04

 Todd Rokita

 Texas-15

 Ruben Hinojosa

 Kentucky-02

 Brett Guthrie

 Virginia-07

 David Brat

 Mariana Island

 Gregorio Sablan

 Virginia-03

 Bobby Scott

 Massachusetts-05

 Katherine Clark

 Wisconsin-06

 Glenn Grothman

 Michigan-08

 Michael Bishop

 Wisconsin-02

 Mark Pocan

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, led by chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow.

 State

 Member

 State

 Member

 Arkansas

 John Boozman

 Mississippi

 Thad Cochran

 Colorado

 Michael Bennet

 Nebraska

 Ben Sasse

 Georgia

 David Perdue

 New York

 Kristen Gillibrand

 Indiana

 Joe Donnelly

 North Carolina

 Thom Tillis

 Iowa

 Joni Ernst

 North Dakota

 Heidi Heitkamp

 Iowa

 Chuck Grassley

 North Dakota

 John Hoeven

 Kansas

 Pat Roberts

 South Dakota

 John Thune

 Kentucky

 Mitch McConnell

 Ohio

 Sherrod Brown

 Michigan

 Debbie Stabenow

 Pennsylvania

 Bob Casey

 Minnesota

 Amy Klobuchar

 Vermont

 Patrick Leahy

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Using Videos to Introduce Your Church, Campus, or Community to the 2015 Offering of Letters

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By Jon Gromek

We live in a country where nearly 16 million children (1 in 5) live in homes that struggle to put food on the table.  This year, Congress will debate the funding and policies for the programs that feed our children and nourish the minds and bodies of our brightest future. We will hear a great deal of facts and figures, statistics, and the minutiae of policies and programs. As important as these things are to the debate, one of the most important aspects in this national discussion is YOUR VOICE.

The decisions made this year will affect the health and well-being of mothers and children for years to come.  Last week, Bread for the World officially launched its 2015 Offering of Letters: Feed Our Children, which means it’s time for Bread members across the country to start writing letters to their members of Congress!  The Offering of Letters kit is a great resource for people everywhere to engage in advocacy and raise their Christian voice. Some of the most effective tools are the videos produced for the 2015 Offering of Letters campaign.

Be sure to watch the “Lunch ‘n’ Learn: The Importance of Child Nutrition Programs,” video and also the 60-second trailer.  Share them with a friend, or show them in preparation for a congregation-wide Offering of Letters.  Use the videos as a tool to engage and educate people in your congregation or community. Share them with friends and your congregation on Facebook. Post them on blogs. Show them during a Sunday school class, and invite reflection and discussion afterward. The videos not only put the issue of hunger in context, but also help put a face to what we are fighting for and the children who struggle with hunger every day.  

Through these short videos you can meet Barbie Izquierdo and her children, Aidan and Leylanie, a Philadelphia family that has benefited from child nutrition programs; hear from staff at elementary and high schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland who speak first-hand about the importance of investing in our children’s growth, development, and education. Use the stories as inspiration to go out into your own community to meet and talk with students and educators who live these programs. They are representative of families and community members in every corner of our country, and they are the reason to write, call, email, and visit your congressional leaders and tell them to “feed our children.”

Jon Gromek is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Finding Life's Purpose Through Travel, Faith, and Education

Kivu pic lightened
KIVU Gap Year students Caroline Barry, left, and Margaret Kuester, center, visit the office of U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11). Jared Noetzel, right, evangelical engagement fellow at Bread, sits in the meeting. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

Roughly 20 college-bound high school graduates visited Bread for the World’s offices last week to learn about Bread’s work and how they can become advocates to end hunger by 2030.

The students’ visit is part of their 8-month “gap year” experience facilitated by faith-based KIVU Gap Year. A “gap year” is when students take a year off school in between high school and college (typically deferring college enrollment) to explore their educational and life goals before starting college.

Part of the students’ experience at Bread was learning about our advocacy work. Before heading out to Capitol Hill to speak with their members of Congress, the students received a tutorial of sorts about Bread’s advocacy goals, especially the child nutrition reauthorization bill, and how to speak with legislators.

The bill is set to expire this year, and Bread plans to work vigorously to ensure its reauthorization. In fact, this year’s Offering of Letters focuses on the importance of child nutrition.

“Having student groups like Kivu Gap Year visit Bread is a great opportunity for young people to learn about living out their faith through advocacy,” said Christine Melendez Ashley, senior policy analyst at Bread. “They get to put that into practice by going to visit their members of Congress. We help empower them to be a voice for the voiceless, in this case, for kids at risk of hunger.”

Maggie Parsley, 18, from Columbus, Ohio, said she found her visit to Bread both informative and inspiring. She got to visit with aides from the offices of Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) and speak with them about the importance of child nutrition.

Parsley said she hopes the “gap year” experience will give her an opportunity to figure out her life’s passion and be better prepared for college. “For me, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do [after high school],” she said. “I didn’t know where I wanted to go.”

KIVU’s gap year is divided into two components: domestic and international. Students spend the first half of their “gap year” doing a domestic internship. Parsley did hers at a refugee resettlement center in Denver, Col. On Saturday, the students left to go overseas to begin their international internships in countries such as Rwanda, Philippines, Tanzania and Israel.

For some students, the opportunity to grow closer to God and deepen their faith was central to their decision to join KIVU’s gap year experience. “I believe God was calling me to do this,” said Courtney Lashar, 19, of Norman, Okla. Lasher spent her domestic internship at Sox Place - a daytime youth drop-in center in Denver, Colo.

In fact, Lashar’s meeting with Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4) turned from a political encounter to a spiritual one when prayer was recited at the end of their meeting - first by Krisanne Vaillancourt-Murphy, who leads national evangelical church relations at Bread, and then by the congressman himself. “He wanted to pray for us. For our trip and what we were doing as part of KIVU,” Lashar said. “It was an amazing thing to see.”

Jared Noetzel, evangelical engagement fellow at Bread, said that advocacy should be part of Christian discipleship, and that these young people get that. "They are ready not only to take their faith seriously, but to turn it into action. Their choice to advocate for the marginalized in society represents the best of our shared, Christian social ethic."

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

                

2014 Victories: Hunger Prevention and Economic Development

15954831205_0cfea801b4_oEditor’s note: Bread Blog is running a six-part series highlighting Bread for the World’s legislative wins in 2014. Today’s post looks at appropriations funding for programs that prevent hunger and promote economic development.

By Bread Staff

In the final days of the 113th legislative session, Congress passed a $1.01 trillion spending bill, funding most government programs through September 2015. Despite a very tough fiscal climate, programs that address hunger and poverty did fairly well.

On the domestic front, the spending bill includes $6.23 billion in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), enough to cover current and projected caseloads. The money will also go toward funding breastfeeding peer counselors, infrastructure, and management information systems.

Other funding includes $25 million for school equipment and breakfast expansion grants and $16 million for summer food demonstration projects. This gives us a leg up on our 2015 Offering of Letters campaign, which will focus on child nutrition programs. These programs include school and summer meals programs. Bread is seeking expansion of these programs when they are reauthorized in 2015 so more children can get the meals they need.

Congress also approved increased funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which ensures low-income seniors get adequate meals. The funding included $2.8 million to expand the program to seven new states: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Internationally, Congress increased funding for poverty-focused development assistance to $27 billion, a significant increase from last year’s level of $24 billion. The boost is largely due to the Ebola supplemental funding that President Obama had requested. The funding will go toward international disaster assistance, global health, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operating expenses. 

The additional supplemental funding will help ensure that the United States responds not only to the crisis in West Africa, but also continues to support ongoing development and humanitarian efforts in other regions in the world.

Bread also saw another win this year when USAID launched its multi-sector nutrition strategy in May. This strategy ensures nutrition remains a focus across development projects from education and hygiene to agriculture and gender equality. It scales up work targeted at children’s first 1,000 days from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.  Maternal and child nutrition during this period has lasting effects on long-term growth and cognitive development. 

Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute have been active participants in the 1,000 Days advocacy movement and in the development of USAID’s nutrition strategy.  The launch of the strategy represents a major success for the global health and nutrition advocacy community.

“Our legislative wins aren’t always grabbing headlines, but they’re significant and affect millions of lives,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World. “This list of legislative accomplishments reminds us that sustained, faithful advocacy really works and really does bring change. We’ve got our work cut out for us in 2015, but let these successes of 2014 motivate, inspire, and energize us for the path ahead.”

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is set to expire September 2015. We’ll need your help to ensure that Congress continues to make nutrition for children a priority. Stay informed about the key issues regarding child hunger in the United States.

Photo: Students eating lunch at Wolcott Elementary School in West Hartford, Conn. Vivian Felten/USDA.

 

 

 

 

 

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