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Ensuring Access to Healthy Food during a Child’s First Years
toddler holding an apple

Good nutrition is crucial during the rapid growth and development of early childhood. Yet structural racism has left far too many communities with limited access to healthy food and far too many children under five vulnerable to poor health, impaired learning and school readiness, and behavioral problems, as well as other issues associated with food insecurity during the early years.

Young children are struggling with food insecurity...

  • According to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (July, 2020), about 29 million adults — 12.1% of all adults in the country — reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days.
  • The rates were more than twice as high for Black and Latino respondents (21% for both groups) as for white respondents (8%).

And young children’s growing bodies need good food

  • The brain undergoes dramatic development during the early childhood years, building cognitive, social, and emotional capacity along with advancement in language and motor skills. [1], [2] According to the World Health Organization, “Early childhood is the most intensive period of brain development during the lifespan.  Adequate stimulation and nutrition are essential for development during the first three years of life.”[3]

Food insecurity in the early years can have an immediate and lasting impact….

  • Children living in households experiencing food insecurity are at greater risk of fair or poor health and hospitalizations, developmental delays, cognitive impairment, poor academic performance, abnormal weight and body mass index, and decreased social skills.

And the costs will still be felt decades later

  • Three of the five most costly adult diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression which cost $582b annually) are associated with early life adversity, like food insecurity, according to the American Heart Association.

All families want to give their children the best start and that includes being able to provide enough healthy food to fuel and nourish their children. Together, with policy-makers, healthcare providers, childcare centers, community-based organizations and other national and local partners, No Kid Hungry is committed to ensuring every child, regardless of zip code, has access to the healthy food they need to thrive. And, together with our Cooking Matters partners, we are empowering families with 0-5 year olds to stretch their food budgets and cook healthy meals.

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[1] Rosales F, Reznick J, and Zeisel S. Understanding the Role of Nutrition in the Brain and Behavioral Development of Toddlers and Preschool Children: Identifying and Overcoming Methodological Barriers. Nutr Neurosci. 2009 October ; 12(5): 190–202.

[2] Sakai KL. Language acquisition and brain development. Science 2005;310:815–9

[3] World Health Organization Fact Sheets: Early Child Development. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs332/en/.

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An Innovative COVID-19 Response for Families with Young Children in Washington, D.C.
Erik prepping a meal w mask

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing systemic inequalities especially for families living East of the river in Washington, D.C. No Kid Hungry and the team of the Division of Community Pediatrics (DCP) at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Power of 10 Initiative responded to the community’s call for healthy prepared meals and groceries delivered safely to their door during this national emergency. Read more about how families enjoyed and benefited from this partnership in this microreport

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No Kid Hungry grant opportunity to increase food security among young children (0-5 years old)
kids eating in classroom

No Kid Hungry is pleased to release a new grant opportunity to increase food security among children from birth – five years old.

Community organizations, early child care centers, healthcare providers, and others working to ensure vulnerable young children have access to healthy food are encouraged to apply for a grant. Grants will be between $15,000-$25,000 and applications are due on December 18, 2020.

Download the Application Here

A webinar about this grant opportunity and application will be held on December 3rd at 2-3 pm EST. 

No registration is required. New webinar link available.

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