Hungry Children in Rich America

Today, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio released a new report with an urgent call to action on Early Childhood Hunger. There is no excuse for any child to go hungry in our country, and this brief, The Early Childhood Hunger Imperative finds thousands of Ohio’s youngest children are being stunted by hunger every day. Can you imagine your 6-year-old digging through the trash at school to find food for his 3-year-old younger sister? That is exactly what CDF-Ohio discovered and unfortunately there are numerous children just like them. Please read and share this important new report and demand that political leaders at all levels do something about it. Here are a few of the key findings from the brief. Food Insecurity in young children increases the odds of negative health outcomes:

  • Nearly two times more likely to be in “fair or poor health;”
  • Two times as likely to have behavioral problems;
  • Nearly two times more likely to be at risk for developmental delays;
  • Three times more like to have stomach aches; and
  • Two and a half times more likely to have headaches.

Once they reach kindergarten they are more likely to be behind in social skills and reading performance. As Renuka Mayadev, Executive Director of CDF-Ohio says, “While the school-age food supports of free and reduced price breakfast and lunch are critically important, waiting until hungry children are in school is too late.” Act now.

New Guidelines: Connecting Child Health to Academic Success

On January 15 Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education John King issued a joint guidance letter and a toolkit of promising practices to spur action in school districts and health care systems across the country. The Secretaries urged state and local health and education entities to collaborate around five action items:

  1. Helping eligible students and family members enroll in health insurance;
  2. Providing and expanding Medicaid reimbursable health services in schools, including immunizations, health screenings and others;
  3. Providing or expanding services that support at-risk students, including through Medicaid-funded case management;
  4. Promoting healthy school practices through nutrition, physical activity, and health education; and
  5. Building local partnerships and participating in hospital community needs assessments.

The decade-long collaboration between the Children’s Defense Fund — and AASA (The School Superintendents Association) on a school-based child health outreach and enrollment model is now in the spotlight as a best practice to increase enrollment in health coverage for students and their families. Learn more about CDF’s work to expand child health coverage in Marian Wright Edelman’s Child Watch® Column, Keeping Children in School, Healthy and Learning.