Washington, DC — No Kid Hungry, a campaign from the national nonprofit Share Our Strength, recently announced that it will invest $3 million in grants to organizations focused on early childhood to help decrease food insecurity among children under the age of 6.
The Hunger and Health Coalition in Boone was selected as a grantee. Other grantees include Families First in Cabarrus County Inc. in Concord, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants NC in Raleigh, PORCH-Durham in Durham and Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem.
Hunger and Health Coalition Executive Director Elizabeth Young said the support from No Kid Hungry “means the world to our community,” especially during a year struck by COVID-19.
At one point during the past year, 40 percent of parents of kids under 6 years old reported job or income loss related to the coronavirus pandemic. More than one in five parents reported food insecurity in their household. Early childhood is the most intensive period of brain and body development, and hunger and hardship at this age can have long-term implications for children.
“Food insecurity in the early years can have an immediate and lasting impact on overall health, learning, school readiness, and behavior,” said Caron Gremont, Director of Early Childhood for the No Kid Hungry campaign. “These flexible, year-long grants will help organizations provide healthy food to young kids and their families at this critical time.”
Young said the funding from No Kid Hungry will aid the agency’s mobile food delivery program, which will focus on families with children ages 0-5 to directly impact child food insecurity in Watauga County.
“Nearly one in five children in Watauga County face food insecurity — 17.9 percent, according to Feeding America in 2018 — and households who struggle to afford food are also the most likely to lack transportation to access on-site food assistance programs,” Young said. “This No Kid Hungry grant funding will support these objectives by building the capacity of and advancing the mobile food assistance program we have been piloting since September. This program has already succeeded in reaching 78 families unable to benefit from the Hunger and Health Coalition’s regular on-site food assistance, and with funding to increase the program’s capacity, we will be capable of growing the program to reach 100 families.”
Young said the Hunger and Health Coalition staff are “thrilled” to be able to adapt to the region’s transportation barriers in an innovative way and ensure that children have access to much-needed nutritious foods.
“This mobile delivery program is growing stronger by the day — encompassing new families and enlisting the help of volunteers — to 619 total deliveries to date,” Young said.
The No Kid Hungry grants will serve more than 120 early child care centers, health care providers and community organizations. These organizations work with an estimated 170,000 children under the age of five in 34 states and the District of Columbia, with four out of five working primarily in communities of color.
Not only are these organizations on the front lines of hunger, most are also led by members of the community.
“These local leaders have a deep understanding of the families they serve and an authentic connection to the unique needs of their towns and neighborhoods,” Gremont said. “We are excited to help fuel their work and make sure more children have the food they need to grow and thrive.”