May 24, 2015

Attention! Attention!

A Governor’s Proclamation has been released that recognizes June 16th as Summer Food Service Program Day!

Children who suffer from food insecurity are more at risk of chronic illnesses, behavioral issues, or both. The USDA describes “food insecurity” as having limited access to adequate food due to lack of money and other resources. The leading chronic illnesses related to food insecurity are heart disease and obesity. There is a paradox present when it comes to hunger and obesity. Food insecure people become more at risk for obesity because of their lack of resources, healthy foods, and physical activity. In addition to physical health issues, there are mental health issues as well. Behavioral, emotional, and academic problems are more prevalent among hungry children. These children are also most likely to repeat a grade, receive special education, and receive mental counseling because there hunger overpowers their ability to concentrate.

Many people think that hunger is not an issue in their communities. There are children in every county in the State of Illinois that suffer from hunger. A common misconception may be that only low-income areas suffer from food insecurity. But that is NOT true. For example, according to the US Census conducted for 2008-2015 the 6th Congressional District has the highest average income in Illinois at $117,27, yet 16.8% of children in that area are food insecure.

The Illinois State Board of Education emphasized some of the counties in Illinois that are tier one target areas for increased summer meals participation for 2014, some of which are Cook, Massac, and St. Clair. Below is a table that shows the percent of child food insecurity in each county, as well as the number of Free Summer Meals sites in 2012. To feed every child that suffers from food insecurity, each Cook County site would have had to serve 215 kids every day. The number of sites below is not enough to be able to feed all the children with food insecurity. Thankfully, the governor’s proclamation urges more sites to open!

In addition, the Governor’s Proclamation urges all sites to become open sites! Open sites are available to any and all children that want a free meal. Children can walk in, grab a meal, play games, and talk with friends. Some sites are closed, meaning you have to register your child before he or she can get a meal. If you do not register ahead of time, the site then becomes closed to you. The Governor realizes the importance of ALL children having access to Free Summer Meals in their communities.

County

Percent of Food Insecurity

Number of Children

Number of Sites

Massac 22.7 % 800 2
St. Clair 20.6% 14,030 27
Cook 20.8 255,180 1,188

In addition, the Governor’s Proclamation urges all sites to become open sites! Open sites are available to any and all children that want a free meal. Children can walk in, grab a meal, play games, and talk with friends. Some sites are closed, meaning you have to register your child before he or she can get a meal. If you do not register ahead of time, the site then becomes closed to you. The Governor realizes the importance of ALL children having access to Free Summer Meals in their communities.

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