Dorothy McAuliffe, the First Lady of Virginia, wants to do something the presidential candidates have failed to do: make hunger a top issue. Speaking today at the 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, McAuliffe said it’s a disgrace for the world’s most powerful nation to have hungry citizens.
There are over 49 million Americans living in hunger. Yet there is more than enough food to reach all those in need.
McAuliffe said child hunger has escalated in the last decade noting, “for the first time ever, more than half of the nation’s public school students were eligible for free or reduced price school meals.”
But many of the children who receive the free lunches are not getting school breakfast. This has caused student performance to suffer.
But there is a solution. McAuliffe noted, “schools that have transitioned to a model where breakfast is served after the bell, like Breakfast in the Classroom or Second Chance Breakfast, have seen their participation rates increase dramatically, and have also seen decreased behavior referrals and improved attendance – which in turn has enhanced curriculum time.”
Not only must school breakfast participation improve, but there must be increased access to food after school and during the summer months. If everyone does their part, these safety nets can reach all needy children. McAuliffe said teamwork in her state between the Governor’s office, No Kid Hungry Virginia, FRAC, Virginia Hunger Solutions, and Feeding America has been extraordinary.
She is urging citizens to get involved by contacting Congress. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is up for renewal, and this is a chance for Congress to improve the school breakfast and other programs vital to fighting child hunger.
McAuliffe said it’s our duty to act. She concluded by saying “The fact that we allow children to ever suffer with hunger in this, the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, is an absolute injustice.”