Kids Need Healthy Food!

Lisa Uganski is a Registered Dietitian who serves as a coordinator for Ottawa Food. She is a current board member for Hand2Hand. Lisa works to eliminate hunger in Ottawa County, encourages healthy eating by all, and helps increase the sourcing of local food. Her work helps ensure all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices.

Kids Need Healthy Food

While eating healthy is beneficial for people of all ages, proper nutrition for children is essential to ensure that they grow and develop to their full potential.  Some of the benefits of healthy eating in childhood include maintaining a healthy weight, strong bones and teeth, improved mental health, and preventing chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, not all kids have access to healthy food on a regular basis. In food-insecure households, the need for food often competes with the need for other necessities such as housing, utilities, healthcare, and transportation. As food budgets are stretched, often the focus becomes the cost, not the quality of food. For example, families may purchase more processed, high sugar, low nutrient foods as they often cost less than healthier options.

Child Food Insecurity

Child food insecurity is especially concerning, as kids from food insecure households are likely to be sick more often than their peers. For example, a study published in 2019 found that children in food insecure households had rates of lifetime asthma diagnosis and depressive symptoms that were 19.1% and 27.9% higher than those of children who weren’t food insecure. In addition, lack of adequate healthy food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school; and is linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems.  Kids need and deserve healthy food to help them learn and grow into the best people they can be.

How Hand2Hand Helps

For these reasons, Hand2Hand strives to provide healthy, nutritious options to students in their backpacks each weekend.  Church partners providing food to kids are given meal ideas that include fruits and vegetables.  Because cost can be a barrier, Hand2Hand provides church partners with funding to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for the backpacks at least four times each year.

No child should have to worry about where the next meal will come from.  Kids deserve access to healthy food to fuel their bodies and minds. When you support Hand2Hand, you’re helping to ensure that kids in need don’t just receive food but receive nutritious items that will help them to learn, grow and thrive.

-Lisa Uganski, MPH, RD

Source: Margaret M.C. Thomas, Daniel P. Miller, Taryn W. Morrissey; Food Insecurity and Child Health. Pediatrics October 2019; 144 (4): e20190397. 10.1542/peds.2019-0397