September is Hunger Action Awareness Month
In Arkansas, 28% of children are what we call "food insecure", meaning their families have difficulty meeting basic food needs because they lack money or other resources.
And food insecurity can lead to more problems than just feeling hungry. Research suggest that weight gain is most problematic in households with low food security. Research
also tells us that a healthy breakfast can lead to better test scores and fewer discipline reports--common problems for children who cannot concentrate in the classroom
because they are hungry. However, the General Assembly is taking measures to ensure children have enough of the right things to eat. Arkansas was the first state to start a
bipartisan state legislative hunger caucus, which works to secure funds for hunger relief. In addition, Governor and Mrs. Beebe launched the No Kid Hungry Campaign in
October 2010. The campaign seeks to increase participation in under-utilized federal food and nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
and School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. In just one year, Arkansas has seen a caseload increase of 24% for the SNAP outreach, and a 16% increase in the number of summer
meals served in outreach programs. While the state has made great strides in reducing food insecurity, we will not eliminate this problem without your help. With 1 in 6
children in Arkansas hungry, chances are someone you know or someone close by needs help. If you do not have financial resources to give, there are many volunteer
opportunities available through the Hunger Relief Alliance. Go to www.arhungeralliance.org for more information.