Soon children throughout Southeast Missouri will return to school. While many children will complain about losing their summer freedom, for others school is the only place where they are guaranteed a meal.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 17 million children are at risk of hunger. Nearly 40 percent of people receiving food or groceries from the Feeding America network are children.
On the first day of school in our community, children experiencing hunger will have already fallen behind their classmates. These children will have more difficulty concentrating in class, be sick more often during the school year and be less likely to excel academically.
The consequences of child hunger extend far beyond this school year. Children who grow up poor are more likely to be unemployed and to receive public assistance as adults, continuing the cycle of poverty.
Through national child-feeding programs such as Backpack Program and the School Based Pantry Program provided locally, Southeast Missouri Food Bank provides additional meals for children whose families cannot afford to keep food on the table.
Together, we can provide a better tomorrow for children in need.
KAREN GREEN, executive director,
Southeast Missouri Food Bank, Cape Girardeau