The number of children in the United States facing hunger rose during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 roughly 15 million children experienced hunger and lived in food insecure homes according to the organization Feeding America.
There are many reasons why so many kids faced food insecurity during the pandemic. Some of the reasons included: parents started to lose their jobs and so they may have struggled to have enough money to buy food. Some kids had no access to school meals because they were at home studying in online classes. Because some parents had many children at home, it was hard for some parents to buy enough food to feed their children breakfast and lunch, when before they relied on school meals to help feed their children.
Here in Massachusetts, according to Project Bread, before the pandemic just 1 in 10 children had food insecure homes; after the pandemic started, this number had been rising. Three months after the pandemic, 1 in 4 children lived in insecure food homes, according to the organization.
There are many ways that people can help hungry children in Massachusetts. One program helping is Project Bread, located in Massachusetts. They are advocating for policy changes to give free meals in all public schools in the state and advocate for many other food policies. They also help people find places to get free or affordable food.
Another program is the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, in the Merrimack Valley area. They donate 4 million pounds of food per year, helping communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including Lowell. They have a free lunch program for kids during the summer and other programs to support families. They also receive help from volunteers for more donations or working on their events.
In Brazil our public school had a time where they would open the door for families to get food. All the families who needed it got a really big bag of food that lasted them many weeks. Schools are good places to do this because they can easily share the information with students and families at schools every day.
One solution is to bring this idea from Brazil to Massachusetts. We could open schools at least once a month for programs like this. In addition, excitingly, here in Lowell High School we already have a food pantry in our school called Mill Market for students, created by students. This pantry is supported by the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. It would be so helpful for children if all public schools have food pantries for students in their schools.
For kids to grow healthy and have good development they need good nutrition. Kids are the future of the country. We want all children to have homes filled with food.
Giovanna Mattos Ventura, 18, was born in Brazil. She is a senior at Lowell High School. She likes to support her friends and classmates. She hopes to study aesthetics.