Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why does America have so many hungry kids?

When children are hungry, it cause their bodies to react in a way that eventually causes them to be overweight, becoming more efficient at storing fat from food, lowering their metabolism.

By Thom Patterson, CNN
Updated 3:48 PM ET, Thu June 15, 2017


Ryder's family represents America's 13.1 million households with children that often go without food: "food-insecure households."

"Food is a struggle at times," said Ryder's mom, Kelly Ann Pfaffly, who also is raising a newborn boy.
Pfaffly, 23, and her 24-year-old husband, Justin, have been married five years. They -- along with Ryder, his 7-year-old sister and his infant brother -- all live in a small room at the hotel. "We've been struggling for quite sometime now," she said. "But we always find a way to make it."

She said she and her husband always make sure the kids have food and clothes. "Even if they don't like wearing them," she joked.

Money from cleaning hotel rooms doesn't always last them through the month. Neither do foodstamps. Lately, the family's broken-down car has made transportation difficult, prompting Kelly to quit her part-time cashier job at a local restaurant.

Located deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the area is swimming in "up to 65,000 visitors daily who pump $1.5 billion into the local economy," according to the Branson Tourism Center. Yet the town doesn't have public transit.

A larger percentage of America's food-insecure households are outside metropolitan areas, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Missouri ranked 12th in the nation for highest percentage of food-insecure households: 15.2% with "low or very low" food security in 2015, according to the USDA. North Dakota had the lowest percentage of food-insecure households with 8.5%, and Mississippi had the highest with 20.8%. The national percentage: 12.7%


The national percentage of food-insecure households has been dropping lately. It peaked at 11% during the 2008 recession, when so many Americans were losing their jobs. But as unemployment figures began to drop, so did the number of food-insecure households. By 2015, the percentage of American food-insecure households had dipped below 8%.


Helping the hungry shifted the perspective of Ashley Harkness, another Jesus Was Homeless employee.
"I started seeing that people that I used to judge are so much more like me," Harkness said. "We're all are only one paycheck away from poverty. The only difference is, I have someone who can help me -- and they don't."

The war against child hunger is also being fought in America's schools. Blessings in a Backpack is a nationwide program that helps school children who might otherwise go hungry by providing them with a backpack full of food for the weekends. It's funded in part by Walmart, Cigna and other private companies. But once schools close for summer break, this and many other school-linked programs disappear until the fall.

The federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act provides needy children with free breakfast and lunch at schools. But the USDA in May began relaxing guidelines for that program, opening the door to meals with reduced whole grains, higher sodium and higher fat and sweetened milk. [Due to decisions by republicans.]


Kelly and Justin Pfaffly want nothing more for little Ryder and his siblings than most parents: a safe place to live and raise their kids and enough work to make a living.

"We never ask for much unless it's absolutely necessary," Justin Pfaffly said.

Currently, they're relying on the kindness of their employer -- a hotel owner who advanced them rent money to live in the hotel in exchange for work cleaning rooms and performing maintenance.

They believe that if they can somehow purchase a reliable vehicle, it could give them better job options and more opportunities.

"I want my kids to never have to worry about being low on food and clean clothes," Justin Pfaffly said. "All in all, my hopes and dreams are that Kelly and I could finally give our children the life they need and most definitely deserve -- and for them to never worry again for things they want."

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