Children are too often the most innocent victims of the vicious cycle of poverty that AHA has worked for decades to help overcome.
- Whether suffering from hunger, because their out-of-work parents can’t provide food or these days, school is not in session and the lunches and breakfasts served to many are no longer available.
- Whether suffering from cold, because they simply don’t have warm coats and boots to wear.
- Whether suffering from the digital divide, unable to complete lessons during these days of virtual learning during the COVID pandemic.
- Whether suffering from neglect and abuse, because their family can’t, or won’t, care for their health and welfare.
In recent days, there have been too many stories about the neglect felt by innocent children. We hear them from our partners on a regular basis. We know that, quite simply, poverty is often a culprit behind child abuse.
The stories told by our partners tell just part of the sad tale. One in particular – Mary Mauricio with LAMP in Gainesville, GA. said that many parents feel as though, “If you [the child] weren’t here, I could survive,” and they take their frustration out on their children. The parents’ feelings come from lack of jobs, opportunities, and anger at their own predicaments. Mary says after helping her community for 26 years, she can spot the signs of abused children quickly. She operates an afterschool for teens and when they come in hungry, sleepy, or angry, those are signs that the child is being abused at home. AHA is a proud supporter of the LAMP after school program.
The data on children and hunger is staggering – particularly in many of the states where our program funding is prioritized:
- 1 in 6 children in America live in poverty, making them the poorest age group in the country. [Children’s Defense Fund. “An Urgent and Preventable Crisis”. Children’s Defense Fund, 2021. Web accessed February 4, 2021.
- 1 in 6 American children may not know where their next meal is coming from. [ Do Something.Org “11 Facts About Hunger In the US”, Do Something.org. Web accessed February 4, 2021]
- Kentucky, where we have local partner organizations, has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country – 17.3%.
- 22 million children in America rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school, but as many as 3 million children still aren’t getting the breakfast, they need. [ Do Something.Org “11 Facts About Hunger In the US”, Do Something.org. Web accessed February 4, 2021]
- Children who experience food insecurity are at a higher risk of developing asthma, struggling with anxiety or depression, and performing poorly in school or physical activities. . [ Do Something.Org “11 Facts About Hunger In the US”, Do Something.org. Web accessed February 4, 2021]
- The rates of food insecurity are much higher for households headed by African Americans (19.1 percent — two and a half times the rate for white non-Hispanic households (7.9 percent)) and Hispanics (15.2 percent — two times the rate for white non-Hispanic households (7.9 percent). [Food Research & Action Center “Hunger & Poverty in America”, Food Research & Action Center, 2021. Web accessed February 4, 2021]
For decades, AHA has provided support for the physical needs of children. We give school supplies to thousands so that the parents don’t have to stress about being ready on the first day of school. We give the family meals so that the children receive nutritious meals each week. We provide computers to children so they can learn. We outfit hundreds of children each year in winter coats and gear so they can stay warm.
The cycle of poverty can be broken. It is our mission to work with our partners, one community at a time, to break the poverty cycle and protect the most vulnerable among us from cold, hunger, and even abuse – the children.