Do homeless kids eat healthy foods?
Many of us can only imagine the desperate struggle of homeless parents to provide nutritious meals for their children. The reality of going hungry, however, is experienced by millions of children each day – USDA estimates that 12.4 U.S. children lived in food insecure homes in 2007. Feeding America estimates that 1 in 8 Americans goes hungry. The question for these individuals and families becomes not a matter of eating healthily, but of eating at all.
Parents on a strictly limited budget must choose between purchasing food and purchasing other essentials. With limited facilities available for creating a meal in a hotel, vehicle, or camp site, necessities for healthy eating (such as fresh fruits and vegetables) are often disregarded. For many families, a lack of education on healthy eating habits also hinders their ability to receive proper nutrition.
So, do homeless kids at the Coalition eat healthy foods? Yes, they do! The Homeless Children Nutrition Program, helps us ensure that each meal children receive from our kitchen is just what their growing bodies need:
“The Homeless Children Nutrition Program provides cash reimbursement for certain meals and snacks served to children by eligible organizations…Meals and snacks served to children must meet U.S. Department of Agriculture meal pattern requirements. The meal pattern includes these four components (milk, fruits and vegetables, meat and meat alternates, grains and breads) in amounts specified by age.”
The Homeless Children Nutrition Program provides monies for the Coalition’s meal services to children, as well as gives an expert-approved structure to our meals. Because children learn food habits at an early age, this program also instills in them a positive outlook on healthy eating practices that will last a lifetime.
The National Center on Family Homelessness emphasizes the vast importance of nutritional foods in children’s behavior, school performance, and cognitive development. Studies on nutrition are a constant reminder of just how significant nutritious meals are for kids. Knowing that children’s lives will better as a result of the nutrition they receive here makes pouring milk into each sippy cup and wiping each sticky-sweet face more than worth it!