World Food Day is celebrated each year on October 16 in honor of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. Its goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
Feed the Children, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit with a global reach, takes this special opportunity to promote awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.
“The first 1,000 days of life is the most crucial time of a child’s growth and development,” said Kelly LaFramboise, PhD, Child Development Specialist for Feed the Children. “With poor nutrition contributing to nearly half of deaths in children under the age of five around the world, educating parents of young children on the importance of nutritious food is vital. Our organization exists to alleviate and eventually help end the pandemic of hunger.”
According to FAO, billions of people lack the nutrients their bodies need to lead an active and healthy life. Many people think malnutrition just means someone is underweight, however it can also lead to obesity. While more than 800 million suffer from hunger, over 670 million adults and 120 million boys and girls from ages five to 19 are obese and more than 40 million children under five are overweight due to poor nutrition.
In the 10 countries Feed the Children serves, they are teaching communities how to adopt diversified food sources, empowering them to grow gardens that will feed their families and pass their knowledge to future generations. Their goal is to help build healthy communities that thrive.
Through their community development programs in Honduras, children and families are learning the importance of growing their own food for improving food variety and sustainability. Feed the Children gives schools and community leaders the seeds and other planting materials needed to start the gardening process. Their staff then trains school leaders, teachers, and children how to plant and grow produce that is locally available and high in nutritional value. The produce from these gardens is then used in school meals programs and gives children the nutrients needed to jump start their healthy diets. Students who help tend the gardens gain skills that then can be transferred to their homes and their communities.
“The goal for our school gardens is to actively engage young children and teens around the concept of diversifying their food options,” said David Diaz, Technical Programs Coordinator for Feed the Children’s Honduras office. “Children who participate in the program learn about nutritional security, as well as ecological literacy with simple principles such as recycling and how to care for their water sources. It’s important to us to ensure that children have a steady source of nutritious food to shape their diets for a brighter future.”
In the U.S., Feed the Children works with schools and civic organizations to make sure children are getting the proper nutrition during the school year, as well as when school is out for the summer. When school is out and they are not getting the proper nutrition, children can suffer from the “summer slide”, which means they lose academic skills and knowledge over the summer months. Through Feed the Children’s Summer Food and Education Program, they work with community partners around the U.S. to fill in the gap by providing meals and educational materials. During the school year, many children facing chronic hunger are not getting a balanced breakfast, or the crucial nutrients needed to have energy in the classroom. If they are not receiving at least a small nutritious breakfast, it can lead to poor concentration and exhaustion.
In order to reduce those barriers for at-risk students and give back to their local community, Feed the Children partnered with The Oklahoma City Downtown Lions Club for a six-week program to provide daily nutritious snack meals, as well as snacks to more than 150 students at Rancho Village Elementary. Students were also given hygiene products, toys and books, as well as the chance to participate in many seminars and reading nights lead by specialists within the community. The joint initiative served hundreds of Oklahoma City residents with nutritious shelf-stable food, as well as access to health screenings that can help families shape their diets moving forward.
“By joining with great community partners like The Oklahoma City Downtown Lions Club, we can spread the word about childhood hunger and the effects it has on a child’s growth and development,” said Clint McKnight, Director of Domestic Programming for Feed the Children.
Feed the Children’s nutrition and child development experts offer families a few tips to help their children grow into healthy adults.
– Eat meals together: Studies have shown that eating together tends to promote more sensible eating habits.
– Eat a balanced breakfast: Even if a child just has an apple with a glass of milk in the morning, it makes all the difference.
– Make sure children have plenty of protein: Children who don’t get enough protein can suffer from poor concentration, joint pain and fatigue.
– Get your child involved: One of the best ways to get children to play an active role in their nutrition is to involve them in the process of grocery shopping and cooking.
“Indulging on treats and lesser-healthy foods from time to time is actually a good bonding experience for families. However, it’s crucial for families to establish good, healthy eating habits and for parents and caregivers to not only promote, but demonstrate a healthy lifestyle for their children’s development,” said LaFramboise. “When you prepare and eat healthy, nutritious meals with your children, they are more prepared to make healthy choices for themselves as they grow older.”
While Feed the Children works every day to end childhood hunger, the hope is that by sharing the #WorldFoodDay2019 and #ZeroHunger messages connected to World Food Day, individuals and groups will step up to do even more. The nonprofit has a goal of raising $100,000 to further support its important work to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families both across the United States and around the world.
You can join the World Food Day conversation with them on Facebook (facebook.com/feedthechildren) and Twitter (@feedthechildren). Be sure to include the hashtags #WorldFoodDay2019, #ZeroHunger and #FeedtheChildren with your social shares.
To learn more about Feed the Children and World Food Day, visit feedthechildren.org/pages/world-food-day.
This article is sponsored by Feed the Children.
Feed the Children
Feed the Children exists to end childhood hunger. Around the world, we provide nourishing meals every day to more than 263,000 children. We believe that everyone can work together to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. When friends like you partner with us, we can meet the urgent physical needs of children by providing food, taking action in communities worldwide and creating long-term solutions for clean water, medical care and education. Join us now! Read more ›
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