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Child Nutrition Reauthorization a Chance to Help Hungry NC Kids

PHOTO: Federal child nutrition programs are set for reauthorization this year, which some say is an opportunity for both parties to work together to fight child hunger. Photo credit: mynameisharsha/Flickr.
PHOTO: Federal child nutrition programs are set for reauthorization this year, which some say is an opportunity for both parties to work together to fight child hunger. Photo credit: mynameisharsha/Flickr.
June 22, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. – Federal nutrition programs feed North Carolina's most vulnerable children during the summer months and school year, but there still are many children who go hungry.

A report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) found more than one in five households in the state struggle to afford enough food.

Former U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton of North Carolina, who served on the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, says too many families face these daily challenges.

"The Greensboro-High Point area – that's number one among the metropolitan areas where people are struggling from hunger,” she points out. “Where I live in the 1st congressional district, many families here are struggling and don't have resources to buy food, so the need is here."

Congress is working on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization for this year, which funds critical feeding programs. Clayton says she's hopeful both parties will come together to make the programs better to ensure the health and well being of children in North Carolina and around the country.

Clayton says programs such as the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program are working to reduce hunger and improve nutrition. Supporters say both can improve academic achievement.

"When kids don't get food, they don't learn, their cognitive skills are not developed, and when our kids don't learn it means that kids don't advance to the next class and sometimes they are a dropout, so food and good nutrition is essential." Clayton stresses.

Another critical hunger-fighting program, Clayton says, is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but Congress is proposing cuts to the program.

"They've been saying they want to use that as a way of balancing the budget, is really balancing the budget on the poorest of the poor,” she states. “And that is very unfortunate. Not only is it unfortunate, but it is counter-productive because when people don't get good nutrition, they don't have good health. "

She says SNAP has been effective at lifting people out of poverty while ensuring 46 million people, including children, receive the nutrition they need.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NC