No Kid Hungry Campaign
More than 49 million Americans, a third of them children, lack reliable access to the food they need to lead healthy, active lives. That’s nearly 17 million kids struggling with hunger, right here in America. In Arkansas, 160,000 children are not being fed on a regular basis. Despite our progress in making nutritious food available, Arkansas has the highest percentage of hungry children of any state in the country. To see to it that every child has the opportunity to achieve success, we must first ensure that their most basic needs are met.
Our children are going hungry because, even though we have the food they need and the necessary food and nutrition programs to provide for them, they lack access to those programs. To resolve this unacceptable situation, Arkansas has formed the No Child Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in the state. By bringing together all of our federal, state, and local partners, we will be able to work smarter to make sure that no child goes hungry in this land of plenty.
In January of 2011, the No Kid Hungry campaign launched a survey to collect information from the agencies that feed children every day around the state. We heard from more than 250 locations informing us of their successes, their struggles, and telling us of other ways they can use support from us. We heard that getting the right foods, building relationships with kids and families, and combining access to food with fun or educational activities are helping agencies feed more kids in their communities. We learned that agency members believe they can do more, but that getting access to funding, food, equipment, and people to provide services is blocking that effort. We were told that, with support from the No Kid Hungry campaign, more than a third of the agencies that responded can participate in proven strategies to help children and families become more secure in the knowledge that there will be food available for them.
The No Kid Hungry campaign will use this information to get the right support to agencies that feed kids across Arkansas. We are already following up with many of these groups to get started. Special thanks go to the Department of Human Services, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, members of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, the Arkansas Rice Depot, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and the Department of Volunteerism for their support in distributing the survey for collection.
The survey results can be found at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance website.
In addition to collecting information about the steps agencies are taking, the No Kid Hungry campaign also has worked with state departments and food banks to gain a clear understanding of the places children can obtain food in Arkansas. We collected information about availability of food in schools, in day-care centers, in after-school programs, at summer feeding sites, at pantries, at shelters and soup kitchens, and more. After we compiled the information, we created a database and partnered with the State of Arkansas Geographic Information Office to create maps that show exactly where these sites are in location to each other and to those in need.
Based on the goals of the campaign, we asked specific questions and used the maps to give us answers.
How do our service sites compare to people in need?
The following map shows where Arkansas has its highest percentages of people living in poverty, compared to where we have services for kids in need.
Where can kids obtain food in the summer?
During the school year, every child can gain access to food through their school, but what are their options in the summer? This map shows the locations of sites during the summer, as compared to the percentage of people living in poverty in the area.
How can we improve access to school breakfast?
For a variety of reasons, not all children who are eligible for free or reduced-cost school breakfast actually eat breakfast each day. The following map shows the percentage of those who eat breakfast at school, as compared to the total number of those who eat lunch there every day. The lower the percentage, the greater the opportunity there is to feed more children.
These are just a few of the maps created to help the No Child Hungry campaign plan its work throughout the state. This information will also help us track our progress as we make investments and improvements throughout Arkansas.
For more information, or to be in touch with the No Child Hungry campaign director, visit this Web site: http://www.arhungeralliance.org/no_kid_hungry_campaign.htm