Addressing Childhood Hunger
We Must Do Better
It's a tough reality to grasp, but despite Whatcom County's agricultural bounty, there are way too many hungry kids in our community. Thirty-five percent of the food bank's clients are children, but what do we know about childhood hunger in Whatcom County beyond a sobering statistic? At the food bank's board of directors' retreat last September, we committed ourselves to learn more about this pressing issue and to design strategies to help address it.
To get us started, food bank staff member Max Morange undertook a limited research project using existing data from census tracts and from the school districts to take a snap shot of hunger and poverty in our county. For example, he looked at numbers of households with children aged 0-17 who are living at or below the federal poverty level. Right here in Bellingham there are neighborhoods where
2 out of 5 kids live in poverty
and that ultimately means that they're food insecure or downright hungry.
Childhood hunger was the topic of our first "Food for Thought" presentation of 2018 held on January 11 at the food bank. We rolled out some of Max's findings and heard from
Claire Lane, Director of Washington's Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition
who explained that this is an issue across the state. The coalition's own analysis of hunger trends demonstrated that to end hunger we have to address its root cause: poverty. She and her team work to influence public policy, and I invite you to visit the coalition's website at
where you can sign up to receive action alerts and updates.
This year and beyond the food bank will be looking for strategies and partners such as the school districts to fight childhood hunger. At a minimum, we could expand the "Breakfast after the Bell" program in schools through which kids can get the fuel they need for academic success. According to the coalition, Washington currently ranks 45th among states serving breakfast to low-income students.
We can and must do better
President, Bellingham Food Bank Board of Directors