Did you know that right now there are over 26,0001 children attending San Diego County schools who have been identified as homeless and food insecure? Food insecure means living without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
It may be hard to imagine somewhere as beautiful and affluent as San Diego, but it's true, and that number is growing every year.
This year, Americans will spend over 35 billion dollars on aid to foreign countries. 240 million of those dollars will come from residents of San Diego County alone.
At the same time, over 26,000 San Diego County school children will go entire weekends not knowing if there will be enough food to eat. Think about that.
These are not just kids from rural areas or low income neighborhoods. They are not kids of any particular race or ethnicity. You won't see their picture hanging on anyone's refrigerator door or their sad little faces on late night television commercials with celebrities pleading their cause. These are children from right here in our own communities, in our local schools, from all walks of life, who's primary source of nutrition is school cafeteria food Monday through Friday, and have little to nothing of any nutritional value to eat every weekend.
Hunger can be harmful to any individual, but is particularly devastating to children due to their increased vulnerability and potential for long-term consequences, including health issues and behavioral challenges. Studies have found that:
Hunger has been associated with health problems that may hinder a child's ability to function normally and participate fully in school and other activities.
Children who suffer from food insecurities are more likely to require hospitalization, at higher risk for chronic health conditions, such as anemia, and asthma, and have more frequent instances of oral health problems.
Food insecurity among young children is associated with poorer physical quality of life, which may prevent them from fully engaging in daily activities such as school and social interaction with peers.
Food insecurity is also associated with social difficulties, truancy and school tardiness, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings, bullying, and fighting with other children.
Got Your Back San Diego is a weekend food assistance program developed specifically for children attending San Diego County schools who have been identified as homeless and/or food insecure. Every week we deliver backpacks full of food to local Tri-City schools. Each backpack contains 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, and a few healthy snacks, enough food to sustain a child throughout the weekend. On Friday afternoons, school representatives (liaisons) distribute the full backpacks to children in need and collect the empty backpacks from the prior week. Also included in each backpack is an interactive homework assignment to teach kids about food and making healthy food choices.
The Got Your Back project is having a significant impact in the lives of those children fortunate enough to take part in it. But we have only begun to scratch the surface of the need in our communities. GYB is supported solely by local businesses, churches, social organizations and private individuals. There is so much more to do and we need your help to do it. To learn more about how you can make a difference in a child's life, please click here or call 760-575-4571 now. Thank you!
1. San Diego County Office of Education Web Site / http://www.sdcoe.net/news/Pages/2014-Drive-for-Success.aspx