Read the facts about hunger and food insecurity.
When youth experience hunger and food insecurity, they stop developing normally and begin to focus solely on their hunger. In this deprived state, it is very hard for them to succeed in anything in school or elsewhere. If youth experience this state for a longer time, it becomes malnutrition and severely hinders their success in school and life. Malnutrition in the first years of life is especially harmful, impacting physical growth, decreasing resistance to disease, limiting the size and functioning of children’s brain structures, and stunting intellectual capacity. Severe hunger is associated with anxiety and depression among children.
Low food security and hunger can contribute to toxic stress – the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system. A lack of healthy food leads to malnutrition, health problems caused by a nutritionally-deficient diet. We all have limited cognitive bandwidth. People tend to spend their limited mental reserves on resources that they lack, and so hungry children focus on food, which can lead to neglect of other areas of life such as schoolwork.vi Food insecurity is frequently stigmatized through media messages and public discourse. Families often work to keep their food insecurity hidden, and children may feel stigmatized when using free and reduced lunch programs and other social services. These children and teens should not be subjected to these effects.
Studies show that food insufficiency is associated with a higher prevalence of poor health conditions, including stomachaches, headaches, and colds; and that severe hunger can predict chronic illness among both preschool and school-age children. It is for this reason that many school programs exist, however, children haven't been able to access those programs due to stay at home orders.
Research shows that families’ lack of sufficient food, irrespective of their income, is associated with depressive disorders and suicidality in adolescents. This fact shows that by providing teens with a sufficient amount of food, we are able to give supply them with the support they need to succeed in both school and life. Fixing this issue could help solve a few other problems as well.
The effects of Covid-19 on unemployment and the number of people struggling with hunger and food insecurity are enormous. These factors have increased the number of food-insecure youth by 5.8 million youth in the U.S. This increase has put a strain on many food banks that could never have anticipated the quick change. Many youths who just started to struggle with hunger and food insecurity now need food and support.
In Maine, every 1 in 5 youth are going hungry and are food insecure. Many of these youth are unable to focus on school and have a very hard time developing mentally and physically. They are less likely to be successful in school and rarely have extracurricular activities. Losing interest in life altogether. Ending youth hunger and food insecurity will increase their chances of having a successful and fulfilling life.
Hunger and food insecurity's effect on youth can be seen in every part of their lives. From the way they engage in school, their friends, and home life. Many youth take it upon themselves to care for their families by going without food so their siblings or parents can eat. Because of this, they fear going after success in school will hinder their family from being able to eat. Rationalising their experience as jus something they had to do because they had to.
Join our cause and help us end hunger and food incesurity in Maine. You can volunteer to help accept food donations at food drives and give out food to youth at our events. Other ways of helping include spreading the word over social media and telling everyone you know the facts about hunger and food insecurity. The more people who know, the closer we get to ending hunger and food insecurity in Maine. Fill out our volunteer form to start helping today.