What is Childhood Food Insecurity?

Childhood food insecurity occurs when a family does not have a reliable system to provide year round food.

An anonymous local telephone survey found that 50% of households in poverty answered “Sometimes” or “Often” to the statement: “The food that I bought just didn’t last, and I didn’t have money to get more.”

But parents and guardians cannot admit to being unable to feed their children for fear their children will be taken away.

So hunger remains hidden behind the closed doors of low-income homes and parents and guardians simply hope that they won’t run out of food next month.

But aren’t children fed at school?

Low-income children receive free lunch at school but school only runs 180 days a year. This leaves 185 days when a family’s food has to stretch farther. Most of the Childhood Food Solutions (CFS) budget goes to the school breaks in late March, June, July and December.

What about Food Stamps?

It is very difficult to budget the SNAP “food stamp” benefit because it is all received at one time a month. Unfortunately, sampling in 45225 by Job and Family Services showed that ninety percent of a month’s SNAP benefit is spent within three days.

Why don’t kids eat at a soup kitchen?

There is no soup kitchen in most low-income communities. Some churches have food available on Sundays but only a handful of children use this option.

Why Focus on 45225?

Cincinnati zip code 45225 is the tenth poorest zip code in Ohio. It includes Millvale, North Fairmount and the Villages at Roll Hill (formerly the Fay Apartments). Although many Ohio zip codes have neighborhoods that are as needy as 45225, the advantage of developing methods in a very low income zip code is that you can monitor zip-code data to learn how effective your methods are.

What happens if there is no food?

Educational results vary with food insecurity in Cincinnati Public Schools for Grades 3-6 reading*:The slope of this line supports the commonly held belief that a lack of food on non-school days harms cognitive development.

* Ohio reading proficiency for Cincinnati Public Schools (2017-18)
** The “Community Eligibility” program now assures food for 100% of students at food-insecure schools.

Without an adequate diet, children do not thrive. They are more likely to become ill and recover slowly from illness. They have trouble concentrating in school and do poorly on standardized tests.

Poor school performance hinders chances for an adequate career, resulting in low adult income. So childhood food insecurity contributes to an ongoing cycle of poverty. All evidence points to hunger becoming an incentive for children to use the limited resources they have access to – which is often their own bodies. Their “solutions” lead to stealing, gang membership, drug distribution and the birth of children who will grow up food insecure.

When is food likely to run out for students?

Blue days are good because of 1,150 calories at school. Red days are often bad – they are non-school days.

On-the-ground data tells us that many families run out of food so Childhood Food Solutions provides food for non-school days. This is a critical need during the 2020 three-week spring break.