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Betsy Nelson: Hunger has dire consequences for us all

Betsy Nelson//Special to The Daily Record//May 31, 2012

Betsy Nelson: Hunger has dire consequences for us all

By Betsy Nelson

//Special to The Daily Record

//May 31, 2012

Maybe you’ve been too busy to get to the store this week, or you don’t feel like cooking and there are so many restaurants to choose from.

This question has a quick answer for many, but for many other Marylanders, the question of where their next meal is coming from is consistent, stressful and doesn’t have a good answer.

There are more than 466,000 Marylanders who are “food insecure,” meaning they lack access to sufficient food for all family members to lead active, healthy lives.

The Great Recession and jobless recovery have meant that more families struggle to make ends meet and are choosing between food and other necessities such as medicine or heat. For the 243,000 children in Maryland whose families are food insecure, being hungry is dire.

It is much more likely that hungry children will be sick or hospitalized; it makes it harder for them to perform well in school and puts them at risk for developmental delays that are hard to remedy. The consequences for very young children are even more severe, given that adequate nutrition is essential for proper brain development.

15 strategic goals

Fortunately, many in Maryland are working to address childhood hunger.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has included “ending childhood hunger in Maryland by 2015” as one of his 15 Strategic Policy Goals and has created the “No Kid Hungry Maryland” campaign to drive action on the issue.

Strategies toward this goal include ensuring that eligible families have access to the federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and making sure all eligible children are eating breakfast and lunch in schools or at a summer meal sites.

The campaign, led by the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, is always looking for additional partners, as there are many ways to be involved. These are but a few examples of the good work taking place in our state.

Add your voice

How can you help?

-Volunteer with an organization like the Maryland Food Bank or at your nearest summer meals site.

-Donate to an organization working to end hunger in Maryland such as the United Way’s Access to Healthy Food Initiative.

-Speak with members of your community and use social media to spread the word about childhood hunger. Increasing awareness will help to get eligible kids and families enrolled in feeding programs.

-Join the Paper Apple Campaign of Maryland Hunger Solutions. By participating in the campaign, you can add your voice to the hundreds of Marylanders who are urging support for the federal nutrition programs and other anti-hunger efforts.

In this day and age, it’s heartbreaking to think of Marylanders who don’t have access to sufficient food. I applaud the many efforts to address hunger – especially childhood hunger – in Maryland.

Betsy Nelson, president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or [email protected].



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