Food Insecurity Part II: My village fed me

Read Part I: Numana for the background, and then come back for more. Check out WSU Hunger Awareness for more information about our work.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” –African proverb

A village did not raise me.

But more than the standard family unit aided in my care and upbringing.

My mother had me when she was young, and raised me as a single parent. However, single parent did not mean alone. Without being asked, without being told, without hesitation, my mother’s parents, her older sister and older brother, her aunts, uncles and cousins, rushed to help us.

A village did not raise me.

But a neighborhood ensured my safety.

My mother worked multiple jobs and odd hours for the first years of my life. If my grandparents could not watch me, then neighbors and family friends rose up to meet the need.

A village did not raise me.

But a community helped me grow.

My grandparents were well-known in my hometown. Once, my family had owned and operated a local grocer. My grandfather was a salesman and my grandmother worked at the bank. My mother worked at the only restaurant in town. I grew up at the grocery store, at the bank, at the restaurant. The community knew me, and the community grew me.

A village did not raise me, unless a village is an interacting system of family, friends, neighbors and community members.

When a child suffers because single parent really does mean alone…

When a child suffers because working three jobs still fails to put food on the table…

When a child suffers because a community cannot rise up to meet the need…

When a child is hungry…

I see in the world an attitude that says, “My village will not raise this child.”

Children do not choose to be born into food insecure households and poor socioeconomic conditions. However, it is the children who suffer most when parents, communities and the system cannot rise up to meet their nutritional needs.

According to Feeding America, a United States’ domestic hunger-relief charity, insufficient nutrition negatively affects a child’s physical, developmental and social health.

Hunger puts children at risk for illness.

Without proper nutrition, a child’s developing immune system will fail to mature to its fullest potential leading to increased risk of infection, illness and hospitalization.

Hunger deters the development of memory, cognition, language, motor ability, social interaction, behavior and perception.

Without proper nutrition, children are more likely to have initial problems with speaking, behavior and movement, which could later lead to problems with attention, learning and social interaction.

Hunger causes poor academic performance.

Without proper nutrition, children’s physical and cognitive development suffer, which leads to inevitable problems with poor grades, truancy, anxiety, aggression and social interaction dysfunction.

When Feed the Children requests help feeding children across the globe, what do you feel?

When a child’s behavior goes against social norms, either through behaving badly or strangely, what do you think?

Do you pity one and castigate the other?

One of the United States Department of Agriculture’s strategic goals for fiscal year 2010-2015 aims to, “Ensure that all of America’s children have access to safe, nutritious and balanced meals.”

According to the USDA, more than 16 million children lived in food insecure households in America in 2010. – Feeding America

It is 2011. Why are the children still hungry?

Start the discussion in your community today.