The problem of hunger isn’t always visible, and it takes a community to identify the need for food assistance and ensure that everyone has enough to eat. When it comes to helping children grow up healthy, pediatricians are vital to determining whether a child is eating enough and have a growing body of tools to aid them in this work.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that hunger can affect children in any community, not just traditionally underserved ones and recommends pediatricians ask two questions to learn if a household struggles to put food on the table:
- “Within the past 12 months we worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.” Was that often true, sometimes true, or never true for you/your household?
- “Within the past 12 months the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.” Was that often, sometimes, or never true for you/your household?
(Source: Hager, E., Quigg, A., Black, M., Coleman, S., et al. 2010. Development and validity of a 2-item screen to identify families at risk for food insecurity. Pediatrics, 126(1), e26-e32.)
Feeding America, the country’s largest food bank association with a 200-member network, advises pediatricians on how to broach this sensitive subject with families. Their toolkit also describes the “domino effect” of food-insecurity — the additional illnesses created when a child is undernourished. Feeding America also offers ways to refer patients to community resources that serve families and individuals needing access to nutrition.
Does your pediatrician screen for hunger? In the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank service area, close to 43,000 children are food insecure. The Food Bank serves almost 32,000 children each month across 25 counties and eight cities. Let’s work together to reach the roughly 11,000 children who need us.