A young growing body receives the necessary food and nutrition to grow and thrive, developing a strong brain structure and supporting a child’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional development. Without these proper foods and nutrition, a child’s immune system is compromised making them more prone to illness, injuries, and falling behind their peers due to their stunted development caused by food insecurity in their early years of development.
Food insecurity primarily affects low and middle-income families, the families lack the physical access and financial ability to obtain safe and nutritious food that has sufficient quantities to meet the dietary needs and food preferences of each family member to carry out an active and healthy life.
Hunger in children does not refer to a stomach rumbling caused by a skipped meal. Rather, it refers to children experiencing food insecurity that routinely are without food and are malnourished. Child hunger reaches deeper into a child’s life and society, not just in Africa but also across the world. Over tens of millions of infants, toddlers, and children face severe hunger. Every year more than 3 million children die from hunger and 45% of deaths among children are under the age of 5 years, due to malnourishment. Child hunger contributes to a generational cycle of poverty. Hungry children have difficulty concentrating in class or learning life skills, making it difficult for them to get an education, find a job, provide for their families and end the cycle of poverty. In the world of poverty, chronic malnourishment is synonymous with hunger. With the lack of nourishment, children suffer from a long-term stunting in their health and development.
Food insecurity and poverty are intertwined with one another and are caused by many factors, such as conflicts, weather, poverty, unstable markets and lack of investments in agriculture, which causes several hungry children to raise. Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic drove many families into poverty and hunger, hitting the world’s most vulnerable individuals, hard. This pandemic lead too many schools to close and deprived many children of receiving regular nutritious meals provided by the school through feeding schemes. Along, with the pandemic food prices increased, which made nutrient-rich food more expensive than staple food, making decisions difficult for parents and individuals in poverty, because they have to balance the cost of food with housing, healthcare and other basic needs.
Childhood hunger is one of the biggest problems of our time. However, with the help of Africa Food for Thought’s feeding programs and food aid donations at schools, children do not have to go hungry at schools, which helps children to concentrate better at school and receive the education needed to better their lives and future.
Written by Jhillika Kesa